What is joy? I wanted to make a case that joy and happy are not the same. Except that in the original language of scripture – Greek – the two words are quite similar. Perhaps I want to make them different because I always believed that happy depends on circumstances and joy is a deep, quiet well of blessedness that isn’t dependent on circumstances. Is that true?
Searching scripture, I learn . . .
. . . joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
22But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!Galatians 5:22-23
. . . joy is a byproduct of being in the presence of the Lord.
11You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.Psalm 16:11
. . . joy erupts in heaven when a sinner repents and turns back to God.
7In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!Luke 15:7
I ask myself if I am looking to the right things to find joy. Do I spend time in the presence of God, expecting my joy meter to rise? Or do I look to the people around me to do that for me? Do I look to the Holy Spirit to grow the fruit of joy in me? Or am I trying to conjure it up by some other means? Does one person turning to Jesus cause me to celebrate with joy? Or am I more likely to hang out with the 99 righteous who don’t need to repent?
Joy is dependent on my circumstances and my attitude. When I spend time in the presence of Jesus, looking to the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in my life, showing concern for those who don’t yet know Jesus, I experience joy. When I ignore those things, I don’t.