Welcome to part 2 in foundations of biblical joy. Last week I shared the biblical definition of joy (if you missed it, read it here). With a clear understanding of joy as gladness in the Lord, we can now look at what the Bible says about joy.
As mentioned last week, joy is referred to over 150 times in the Bible! From all those references, I discerned 8 main principles of joy to share with you.
What Does the Bible Say about Joy?
1. Joy comes from God.
More specifically, joy comes from the Holy Spirit.
“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6 (emphasis added)
In fact, joy is a fruit of the Spirit (the reflection on the Holy Spirit dwelling within us).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
2. Faith and obedience to God brings us joy.
Faith and obedience to God includes:
- Keeping God’s commands.
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:10-11
- Trusting in God.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
- Seeking After the things of God.
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” Romans 14:17
“Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.” Psalm 97:11
3. How much joy we experience directly relates to the closeness and steadfastness of our relationship with God.
Closeness with God results in loving him and his way more deeply. Peter tells us our love and faith in God fills us with joy.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,” 1 Peter 1:8
Trusting in God more, and relying on him to meet our needs, allows our joy to be complete.
“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:24
4. Sin hinders us from experiencing joy.
Sin separates us from God, our source of joy.
After committing adultery, David cried out in agony over his lost joy:
“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:7-12 (NLT)
5. Joy transcends circumstances
The Bible assures us we can experience joy in all circumstances.
Habakkuk demonstrates this principle as he prophesied the coming destruction of Israel:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18
6. Having joy blesses us.
As we seek God’s will and rejoice in his goodness, God blesses us. Jesus himself tells us, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33)
Keep in mind many of our blessings are awaiting us in heaven.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11
7. Joy helps us enjoy life and be grateful for everything God has provided.
With gladness coming from the Lord alone, we find true contentment in our situation.
“But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.” Psalm 68:3
“Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” Ecclesiastes 5:19-20
8. True joy can (and should) be shared with others.
Paul instructions us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Roman 12:15
Luke gives us a great example of sharing joy. After Elizabeth gives birth to John the Baptist, “Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.” Luke 1:58
Exploring what the Bible says about joy brings us to one conclusion; joy is the result of a life lived for God.