Christmastime is a season when one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind is elevated and expressed more openly. But our Creator meant it for us as an all-day, everyday way of life for those who love and trust our lives to Him.
A song chorus so familiar to all of us, written by George Cook in the early 1920s, exclaims
“I’ve got joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart, down my heart to stay.”
We all want to live a joyous life, but to do so, we must learn some facts. I learned through brothers and sister in Christ that one can even exude joy without knowing it. For any of us to have it daily, we must learn from God’s Word what true joy really is.
Joy, like any other attitude, can come and go. It is not guaranteed simply because we are believers. We must put ourselves in the places where experiencing joy is a possibility. Studying Bible verses about joy helps build an understanding of how to put us in places where it is possible to find and maintain an attitude of joy.
But what is this elusive thing called joy? According to Dictionary.com, joy is “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” This is nice but we could experience this by eating bacon or thick, juicy steak. It was author Patti M. Hummel in her book “Glorifying God” who gave great perspective on joy:
“Joy is setting the soul upon the top of a pinnacle; it is the cream of the sincere milk of the Word. Spiritual joy is a sweet and delightful passion, arising from the apprehension and feeling of some good, whereby the soul is supported under present troubles and fenced against future fear.”
So how can we put ourselves in the place where exceptionally good things happen and our soul is supported under troubles? We can discover some very important principles by categorizing Bible verses about joy.
There are 214 uses of the word ‘joy’ in the NIV, and nearly a quarter of them are in the Psalms. For this reason, we can establish our principles of joy from the Psalms, and then find corresponding verses in other parts of the Bible.
Here is what we learn from a few, and I challenge you all to seek them out and read them for yourself to glean the truths of real joy:
Joy is not an emotion that can be forced, fabricated, or faked.
There are times when joy eludes us. This is normal and we need to understand that there are times when we will not feel joyful. Yet, it is important that joy cannot be forced.
Joy is not dependent upon our circumstance. Psalm 27:5-7 (NIV).
We can be in a difficult situation and yet experience joy. – Luke 6:22-23 (NIV)
Though joy cannot be forced, it can be experienced in difficult situations. James adds to this thought with, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1:2-3 (NIV).
Joy is possible when we feel secure in the Lord.Psalm 4:6-8
Paul wrote, “Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy. Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon” Philippians 4:4-5 (NCV).
Joy comes when we have a clear direction for our life. We might also use the word ‘purpose.’ While others link their happiness to prosperity, believers can find joy in the Lord.
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 (NIV)
Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” – Matthew 13:44 (NIV).
Where is your hidden treasure? What is the path of life that God has for you? Are you seeking the fields for the treasure that God has for you?
Joy comes when we live in God’s presence. Psalm 21-5-7.
In a world where celebrity, success, and money are glorified, it is easy to lose focus on what brings real joy. Put simply, this verse says, victories are good, glory is great, and splendor and majesty are their results, but my joy comes when I spend time in God’s presence. Joy comes when we spend our life praising God.
This principle may be the easiest one to embrace since church worship is filled with praise. But, let’s establish a Biblical pattern of praise.
Singing, clapping, and shouting are all a part of joyful worship.
Joy comes when we live an honest Biblical life. Perhaps the idea of honesty doesn’t seem to fit with principles of joy, but let’s look at the opposite side briefly. Dishonesty leads to guilt, and discouragement, while honesty breeds satisfaction, and peace. When we add the concept of Biblical honesty, then we discover true joy. Jesus offers his slant on being Biblically obedient in John 15:10-12 (NIV).
There is no greater place to live than in the center of God’s will. There is no way to be in the center of his will without living according to the word of God. An honest Biblical life leads to a joyful life.
Joy comes when we continually praise what God has already done. Psalm 92:4-5 (NIV) Not only does reflection fill us with joy, it makes us glad. But Psalm 126 adds the dimension of joyous laughter.
There are several other instances where Paul encouraged people who were insulted or rejected because of their faith. He always encouraged them to be joyful because they were suffering on behalf of Christ.
When people don’t want you around because of your faith, celebrate joyfully. You are being excluded because they see Jesus living in you.
My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble, which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory. When people insult you because you follow Christ, you are blessed, because the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is with you. 1 Peter 4:12-14 (NCV).
JOY is within us 365 days a year. It is another of God’s great gifts to us. Let it shine through you this Christmas and every day. Be blessed.