Last week we got our arms around a Biblically-correct understanding of work. This week, let’s get our arms around joy… and good luck with that effort.
Everyone thinks they understand joy. They already know it. “Joy, I understand.” Joy is infinite.
If is is so simple, then why do so many people not experience joy in their lives, and especially the joy of work? We may think we understand it, but we don’t live it.
It starts with the fact that most equate “joy” with “happiness” and “happiness” is not doing well in America. Happiness is at a five-decade low, according to the University of Chicago. You can find any number of studies that the outlook on happiness is grim.
This dissonance is by definition. Joy is not happiness. Happiness does not testify to joy.
Happiness is an emotion. It lands on us in varying ways. There is a broad spectrum of happiness from bliss to intense pleasure. It’s an emotional state that provides feelings of positive emotions and life satisfaction. The issue is that happiness is fleeting.
Joy is not fleeting. It is planted. It is a foundation, a stronger base. Joy sits in you similar to your “gut” or your “soul.” Joy can be downgraded as an “emotion,” but a biblical understanding of joy would not define it as simply an emotion.
Happiness is dependent on circumstances – Joy is independent of circumstances.
Happiness is an effect – Joy is a cause.
Happiness is an emotional response – Joy is an act of the will.
Happiness is a result – Joy is a foundation.
Happiness is inconsistent – Joy is consistent.
Happiness is temporary – Joy is eternal.
Happiness can be bought or learned, but joy is a gift that is given. The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit gives believers gifts, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22). As we quoted last week, Nehemiah testifies that joy is a gift from God.
Joy provides more than an emotion to our life. Jesus endured the cross, not because heaven was before Him, or that his friends were in front of Him, or even because it was His job. The Bible says that Jesus survived the torment of the cross because of the joy that was before Him. (Hebrews 12:2)
Joy carries us through other emotions and great trials. Joy is planted in us.
We pray that your week is happy, but your life and work will thrive if your life, contentment, spirit, and happiness are based on joy.
Questions for Reflection/Journaling
- Spend some time thinking about how you experience joy versus your feelings of happiness. How do they vary?
- What are things you do that provide happiness in your life? What are things you do at work that provide happiness?
- Joy is a gift that has been given to you. Where do you discover this gift in your life? Where do you experience this gift in your work?
- What does it say about God that one of the gifts that He gives through his Spirit is the gift of “Joy?”