Published January 24, 2012

Paul's Epistle...
"Real Joy"

There doesn't seem to be much real joy in the world today. A quick glance at the daily newspaper or the evening news will verify that. But that's really too bad, especially since everyone would like to have joy in their life.

Unfortunately, most people confuse "joy" with "happiness." In the Christian sense, they are not at all synonymous.

Happiness deals with what's happening. It deals with circumstance. It's based on emotions – an emotional response to what's happening at the moment.

Genuine joy, on the other hand, is not based on what's happening at the moment, but is something much more fundamental – which is why you can actually have joy even when you're not happy.

Huh? What does that mean? Well, joy is a sense of total well-being – and it's something only the Lord can provide. It's why a Christian can endure the loss of a loved one – obviously not a happy time – but still have a fundamental sense of joy. As the Psalmist says, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Ps. 30:5). It's a joy that comes from a true relationship with Christ and a total reliance on His promises.

Nehemiah 8:10 is the basis for the popular children's song that says, "The joy of the Lord is my strength." That's a fundamental truth. The joy the Lord gives us is, indeed, our strength.

Do you have that joy? I hope so. Assuming that you do, how obvious is it to the people around you? Do they see the joy of Christ in you? They should – if it's really there. Or are you "that grump" next door or down the hall who they'd rather steer clear of. Do folks see the Joy of Jesus in you – in the way you deal with problems that come your way, in the way you deal with people around you, in the way you cope with each day's challenges?

Some years ago when I was active in the Southern Gospel Music Guild we looked for a theme or slogan that could sum up Southern Gospel music. Consultants came in, marketing studies were done, and they suggested this slogan: "Share the Joy!" Joy was determined to be one common theme running through the songs. And, by sharing our music we would be sharing the joy! In fact, for several years, that was the theme of the Guild's "September is Southern Gospel Music Month" promotion.

A life truly dedicated to serving Jesus will be a life of joy. Not always happiness, but always joy. Joy connects us with God's love for us because He created this whole "joy" thing to begin with. Jesus reminded His disciples that He taught them His way so "that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11). The Lord wants us to enjoy that joy He gives. And He reminds us that "no man can take [this joy] away from you" (John 16:22). Nobody – no event – no trial – nothing – can take away the joy a Christian has in Christ!

Canadian Oswald J. Smith wrote more than 1,200 hymns in the early part of the last century, and one of them – called "Joy In Serving Jesus" – sums up well what our reaction should be to this joy:

There is joy in serving Jesus
As I journey on my way
Joy that fills the heart with praises
Every hour and every day.

There is joy, joy, joy in serving Jesus
Joy that throbs within my heart;
Every moment, every hour,
As I draw upon His power,
There is joy, joy, joy that never shall depart.

Is that your testimony? It should be. Do you have that joy in serving Jesus? You should.

It's a joy that can permeate one's being to such an extent that it becomes a fundamental and necessary part of our Christian lives. And the great part is – it's available for the asking. Ask the Lord today to increase your joy. The neat part is that He'll take great joy in giving it.

- Paul

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