What is joy?

We live as individuals but share in the human experience. This post series asks the core questions of what, why, and how about this shared experience. After all, God came to earth as a human himself, to share that experience with us and bring us salvation through that human experience. So, join us today as we explore the core question… what is joy?

Joy VS Happiness

Joy and happiness are often used interchangeably, but this is not fully accurate. Indeed, happiness is an emotional experience based in a current circumstance. It is often expressed externally, with smiling and celebrating. Joy can also include this feeling of happiness, though at a deeper and more powerful level, but joy is actually an inner certainty that transcends our current circumstances. We have joy because of a spiritual experience that goes beyond what’s going on in our lives today.

Joy is a spiritual state of being

God’s Word tells us that joy is a spiritual experience, but this truth is recognized by non-Christians as well. This creative website compares happiness and joy, identifying joy as a spiritual experience, the outcome of living a moral life. Joy is an internal state of being, an internal certainty.

Joy is a fruit

Scripture identifies joy as part of the “fruit of the Spirit.” It is a package deal with peace, kindness, and love. And as a fruit, it cannot be created by humans, only given by God. We can see joy as it grows, deepens, and blossoms in our life.

Check out Galatians 5, and notice that joy is part of the natural experience of our lives being changed by God’s presence in us. The acts of the flesh are obvious actions, and the fruit of the Spirit is equally obvious, only this fruit is deeper, internal, and then flows outward to show itself in our lives.

Joy is a life lived for God. It is a personal experience of being changed by the presence of God in one’s life. This brings feelings of happiness, yes, but does not mean that you will always feel happy or enjoy your present circumstances. 

Another great resource is John Piper’s article answering the question “what is joy” – his basic definition is: “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.” Amen.