Discerning Between Joy and Happiness

from Aug 22, 2010 Category: R.C. Sproul

Don’t worry—be happy!” From popular music to a cultural slogan, this adage is stated in the form of an imperative. It reflects the idea that happiness can be evoked by an act of the will. Yet the prevailing assumption among us is that happiness is something that happens to us or in us. It is a passive experience. We may be active in seeking it, as its pursuit is considered to be an inalienable right of Americans. But the thing itself, as elusive as it may be, is often regarded as something involuntary.

There is a difference between happiness and the joy of which Scripture speaks. The term happiness tends to be broader than the term joy. Happiness tends to include a notion of contentment and satisfaction along with, perhaps, feelings of joy. Joy suggests something more intense—a strong feeling of gladness.

If we are serving God without joy, there is something wrong with that service. If joy is not characteristic in our lives, it may be a sign that we are not Christians at all.

Coram Deo: Is joy a characteristic of your life?

Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Psalm 43:4: “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.”

Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”