We often try to find joy in many different areas of life; relationships, work, money, etc. However, true joy cannot be found in any of these places – rather it can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Difference between joy and happiness
We also often tend to think of joy and happiness as the same thing, but they’re not. For example, the apostle Paul has joy even in the midst of sufferings: “In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy” (2 Corinthians 7:4), whereas it would be hard to say that someone is happy in the midst of hardships.
Ultimately joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Would you not be filled with great joy?
As such, joy is a gift of God that comes from knowing Jesus Christ, and from knowing that our rebellion towards God (our sin) has been forgiven (Ephesians 2:4-8), and that we’ve now been adopted by God as his children (Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:5). Given these glorious truths, why would you not be filled with great joy?
Joy in the book of Philippians
Joy and rejoicing is a particular theme in the book of Philippians. Let’s have a look at what Paul says there:
- 1:4: Paul prays with joy for the Philippian Christians, because of their partnership with him in the gospel.
- 1:18: Paul rejoices in the fact that the gospel is being proclaimed.
- 1:25: Paul says that he will remain (i.e. live and not die) so that he can “continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.” Paul wants these Christians to grow in joy.
- 2:2: Paul wants the Philippians to “complete his joy” by being united together.
- 2:17-18: Even if Paul is facing death, he is “glad and rejoice[s] with them all.” In a similar way, Paul says that the Philippians should “be glad and rejoice with [him]” as he faces possible death.
- 2:28-29: Paul is eager to send Epaphroditus back to the Philippians, that they may rejoice at seeing him again. So he tells them to receive him with “all joy”.
- 3:1: Paul tells the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord”. In other words, to rejoice is a command!
- 4:1: Paul says that the Philippians church is his “joy and his crown”, that is, this church brings Paul joy.
- 4:4: Again, Paul commands the Philippians to rejoice: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
- 4:10: The Philippians church showed Paul concern when we was in need, and this led Paul to “rejoice in the Lord greatly”.
In conclusion, joy ultimately comes from being in a right relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. But it also comes from seeing the gospel being proclaimed, seeing other Christians grow in the Lord and faithfully serving him.