There is a difference between joy and happiness. From a follower of Jesus perspective, we should be in pursuit of joy, not happiness, because joy supersedes happiness.
Let’s talk about Complete Joy!…
Note from Kip…
Why do I say we should be seeking joy rather than happiness. After all our pursuit of happiness is included in the Constitution of the United States of America, doesn’t that mean it is good?
Happiness is not necessarily a bad thing, it is often a very good thing at times. Without any equivocation I can tell you that happiness is temporary. God wants more for us that just temporary emotional boosters along lives way to sustain us.
You can be assured that if your life is driven by chasing happiness then you will soon come to a point where you can’t accomplish it no matter what you do. This is because happiness is fleeting.
All it requires is for something negative to disrupt our happiness and it’s instantly gone in a flash. We do something and we find we are happy and as life wears on around us we see that happiness diminishes.
You could do the same thing over again, but what you discover is that with each successive time you do, the happiness diminishes a bit. At times it diminishes a lot.
As a result, the pursuit of happiness requires that we need more and more excitement to add to the happiness fire so that we can experience that ‘amazing feeling’ we identify with happiness.
We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
1 John 1:4 (CSB)
Joy is Different
Jesus doesn’t want us chasing the illusive brass ring of happiness. We only find that with each experience that the ring is further and further from our grasp. We must do more, have more, see more, feel more to constantly match the experience we had in the past and while we are at it, functions exactly like a drug where we want more and more of it to satisfy that hollow feeling we experience when we are no longer happy.
Joy is different. When we have true joy in our lives then we find that our circumstances don’t dictate our ability to be happy. Where happiness is subject to everything being just a certain way, joy persists through or worst circumstances and provides the opportunity to be ‘happy’ despite our troubles. Joy allows us to be happy in pain. Joy supersedes happiness.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that full or complete joy is not available outside of the Grace of Jesus Christ. It is true that the world manufactures a cheap facsimile of joy, but the problem with the world version of joy is that it also is fleeting and dependent on the circumstances to be persistent.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone.
The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 (CSB)
Let’s break this passage down a little because there is a lot about joy encapsulated in these three short verses.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” – Don’t hold it inside you, break it out. Rejoice in the Lord and then do it again, and again. The ‘always‘ here shouldn’t be played down. The Lord intends on us having this joy all the time, otherwise how would we possibly rejoice always? We simply couldn’t.
“Let your graciousness be known to everyone.” – It’s pretty easy to be caught up in our ‘happiness’ and not be able to see those who are suffering, those who we brush aside, those who we run down as we charge for the next thrill. Joy is different. It has attributes that make it amazing not just for us the ‘joyful’ but also those around us, that is because it comes loaded up with graciousness.
You’ve heard people refer to someone as being ‘a joy to be around’. That’s exactly what our Lord Jesus wants us to be, that joy to be around. This joy is not only for our benefit but so as to spread the ‘Good News’.
“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.
No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 (CSB)
This joy is the prism from which that light is cast on the world through us! Oh, and let’s see, this seems to go hand and hand with loving others doesn’t it?
“The Lord is near.” – There is an understatement Paul! The Lord’s Spirit lives in me! So yes, He is always near. Literally as close as my heartbeat. In Pauls defense, he was making a point that the Lord is ‘near’ as in, he’s right here with us. The greek word used for near is eggys. This carries the connotation of something that isn’t just element, it is near as in I can reach out and grasp it, it is not a distant thing from me. In this context the word near could just as easily be replace with the word ‘here’, ‘The Lord is here.’
So this is being used as a preface to what is coming up next.
“Don’t worry about anything” – The key to this joy is that we don’t have to worry about anything. We are even told this time and time again in scripture. Our vestment of trust and faith in Jesus provides this accommodation, and the core reason that joy endures through suffering and pain. Worry is the gateway to fear and fear is yet another thing that Jesus constantly tells us not to do.
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.”
John 14:27 (CSB)
Paraphrased for this context: I’ve given you peace, it’s My Peace. This isn’t the same peace and comfort that the world will give you, it is My Peace. Therefore ‘don’t worry about anything‘ or fearful, I’m with you!
The framework for abiding joy!
“in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – There is the word ‘but’ in front of this portion of the scripture, so this is to say instead of worrying, pray. Instead of worrying, petition while giving thanks, even giving thanks for situations that are not what we might hope for. Instead of worry, present your requests to God!
What happens next?
“the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Jesus says, ‘I got this!’
We turned it over to him when we committed to not worry about the situation. Not a suggestion, a command, ‘Don’t worry about anything’.
And Jesus told us point blank…
“If you love me, you will keep my commands.”
John 14:15 (CSB)
I’m going to challenge you today.
I think all the necessary facts are laid out here. Because of that, I’m going to challenge you to do as Christ Jesus calls you to do, “Rejoice in the Lord always“. There really isn’t any reason not to. There are several directives that are laid out in these passages we have shared in together.
They all add up to these elements.
A. Jesus said, if you love Him, you will obey Him. So, do you love Him?
B. We are called to ‘not worry’
C. We are to turn everything over to God with prayer and thanks giving.
D. Doing so, that enduring peace that blows past the understanding of the world will be ours.
E. So that we can have constant joy. Joy amid the trials. Joy despite the pain. Joy in our fellowship with other believers. Simply Joy in the Lord!