Christmas can be a wonderful time of year. Believers and non-believers alike speak about joy and happiness. But do you know the difference between the two?
We can get happiness from worldly things. The gifts that we give to each other at Christmas can bring us happiness. Getting that well deserved vacation brings us happiness. A new car can make us happy. Believer and non-believer alike can experience happiness in many forms. But joy? JOY is something that is reserved for the believer; the one that has experienced radical salvation and has the love of Jesus in their heart - THAT is joy.
Happiness is fleeting. We can be 'happy' about that gift or vacation or car for a moment or an hour or a day or a week - but happiness wears off after awhile. Joy, on the other hand, is eternal. Joy goes on and on and on, increasing more and more with our experiences in God. Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and as such can only be experienced as the result of having the Holy Spirit reside in you. We can be extremely happy in the natural world, but never experience joy. The non-believer can experience exuberant happiness and think that they have experienced joy - because they don't know the difference! The sad thing is that they won't ever know joy until they accept the grace of God and are saved by the blood of the lamb. You see, happiness comes from the outside in - joy comes from the inside out. It is God IN us that yields the OUT-pouring of joy that only God can provide.
There's an old quote from the 18th century poet Alexander Pope that has almost become a common expression, "Hope springs eternal". In Proverbs 51:11-12 it states that "The hope of the righteous is gladness" Wow! So the end result of hope is joy! In order for hope to be fulfilled there must be joy at the end of the road. As humans, we hope for a better life. Given the information we have, if we chase after worldly things hoping for joy, that hope will never, ever be fulfilled. It is only through allowing Jesus into our hearts that hope can be fulfilled by joy.
Psalm 16:11 "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is FULLNESS OF JOY; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."
The word of God does not lie. Got joy?