Is there that much difference between happiness and joy? I heard somewhere that the word “happiness” in ancient times meant lucky, chance or turning out well. So logic would suggest that happiness is based upon you being fortunate or opportunistic. It would make sense that if events turn out well, then you’re happy.
But joy is something else entirely. Because even when you have achieved or received, accomplished or obtained everything you wanted, your happiness could be short lived. Why? Because happiness tends to be dependent. It is dependent upon good luck, dependent upon our circumstances, dependent upon other people, dependent upon our moods, dependent upon our emotions, and dependent on how fortunate we are.
Let’s look at the difference between joy and happiness as we talked about in Sunday’s message.
Happiness is external while joy is internal. Physical and material things may make us happy, but joy comes from the heart. Happiness comes and goes, but joy, on the other hand, can stay with you for the long haul. The reason? Real joy is from God. And because it comes from God, joy lasts even in the midst of the trials of life. Joy isn’t dependent on circumstances. Joy is strength. Joy is internal. Even in the darkest days, when sadness, grief, and loss may threaten to overwhelm you, God’s joy is there. Joy is not an act of will-power, but a spontaneous, emotional response of the heart for all that God has done for us.
Happiness is based on circumstances while joy is based on Christ. Happiness is based on circumstances, but Joy is rooted in substance. Happiness may be about things. Joy is about Christ. Because joy is based on Christ, it cannot be taken away. Oh, you might think that it’s gone—that circumstances have robbed you of it—but it’s not. As believers, we are promised the constant presence of the Holy Spirit. We are promised His joy. Jesus’ words in John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Acts 13:52 says, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Christian joy is not superficial and flimsy. Real joy is deep and firm because it is rooted in Christ Jesus.
Happiness is based on chance and joy is based on a choice. Happiness is based on luck, chance or accident. Joy is a decision. A determination of the will. We need to choose joy over bitterness, anger, and sorrow. Make a decision to choose joy every day. No matter what. Look at these great examples in Scripture: “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2). “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).
1. Are you looking for happiness today? What do you think will bring you happiness…a marriage, an accomplishment, a material object?
2. Have you ever accomplished what you thought will lead to happiness, only to be still looking for happiness or something to satisfy and fulfill you?
3. Do you want to have happiness or joy in your life? And Why?
4. Do you know the difference between happiness and joy? Knowing the difference, would you choose joy?