Joy Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Joy

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Joy is the deep-seated delight that comes from being in the presence of the living God as a result of the gracious salvation delivered as a sheer gift by God. Because joy is rooted in nothing less than the death and resurrection of Jesus, it is not a passing emotional state dependent on outward circumstances. Instead, joy endures through the sorrows of life because even when the worst things come, the believer still dwells in Christ and so retains the joy of God's presence and the truth of God's promises.

In Scripture

Examples "On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone — while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" (Job 38:6-8, NIV). "You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Ps. 16:11). "Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit" (Ps. 51:12). "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days" (Ps. 90:14, NIV). "No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isa. 35:9-10). "So [the women] left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples" (Matt. 28:8). "But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people" (Luke 2:10). "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11). "The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God — he and his whole household" (Acts 16:34, NIV). "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:13). "And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6).

Key Characteristic of God's Redeemed People In Scripture joy comes to angels and humans alike when the work of God is witnessed in both creation and redemption. For now joy can co-exist with sorrow, but the day will come when the sorrows of this broken world will be repaired once and for all, so that only the joy of God's salvation will remain as the key characteristic of God's redeemed people.

Points to Ponder

As a fruit of the Spirit: Like all the spiritual fruit talked about in the New Testament, joy is not something human beings produce on their own. Rather, it is something that Christian believers receive (and then exude) as a result of their union with Christ. The Greek word for joy is chara, which means it is part of that whole wonderful cluster of Greek words for grace, graciousness, gifts, thanksgiving, rejoicing. All of this ties in with the charis of God that saves us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. In this sense, joy is the natural outflowing of our having received grace. Christians can have joy even in the face of sorrow because of their deep-seated belief that in Christ God has made all things right and new again, and that newness cannot be taken away.

Not happiness: Joy is frequently confused with mere happiness. But whereas happiness comes and goes depending on a variety of outward factors, joy pops up in the least likely of places: the bedside of a dying saint, funerals, graveside committals, the aftermath of some great tragedy. Joy does not pretend there is no hurt in life, nor is joy like some happy-face sticker pasted on top of tragedy as a way to blot it out or pretend it's not really so bad after all. But because joy is rooted in the death of Christ Jesus — and since that death happened because Jesus took on all the pains and sorrows of this broken world — joy can exist where happiness cannot.

Joy and hope: In Scripture, joy and hope are frequently mentioned in almost the same breath. This is a testament to the fact that in this world we still encounter great sorrows and only our hope that the promises of God are true allows us to know that sorrows will not have the last word. "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart: I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NIV). If joy is rooted in and created by the assurance that we have been saved by grace alone (grace is charis, joy is grace's first cousin, chara), then hope is what gives joy backbone and strength to persist through even some of the worst troubles this life can dish out to us.

Lewis Smedes: "Only the heart that hurts has a right to joy. Only the person who cries for the needless death of children has the right to bless God for the gift of life. You truly celebrate the gift of life only when you also cry out in pain for people whose existence is the constant humiliation of human injustice."

John Henry Cardinal Newman: "At Christmas we joy with the natural, unmixed joy of children, but at Easter our joy is highly wrought and refined in its character. It is not the spontaneous joy and unartificial outbreak which the news of Redemption might occasion, but it is thoughtful; it has a long history before it and has run through a long course of feelings before it becomes what it is. Joy is a last feeling and not a first" .

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.