Happiness Is a Current State of Being. Joy Is About the Future

The Bible Project creates animated videos that show the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.  They also create videos that explain the meaning behind specific Bible words in order to give readers greater understanding into the writers’ intent.

In this video they look at the word “joy.

Today’s culture would interpret that word to mean “happiness.”  The Bible does, too, and also uses “joy” to describe beauty, goodness, friendship and a plentiful harvest.    

While the words can be synonymous, there is a deeper theological and spiritual understanding behind “joy.”

Happiness typically refers to a current condition. Joy speaks of future destiny.

The producers of the video explain it this way:  “Christian joy describes faith and hope in the power of Jesus’ life and love” regardless of your present condition.

Can you be joyful in the midst of pain and suffering? The video points to biblical characters who were. The Israelites roamed the desert for 40 years but Psalm 105:43 tells us “The Lord caused his people to leave with joy, his chosen ones with shouts of joy.”

And Paul, while in prison and awaiting execution, spoke of “joy of faith” and “joy in the Lord” in his letter to the Philippians.

In fact, theologians argue it would have been sinful for Paul and the Israelites not to be joyful in those circumstances. R. C. Sproul in an article titled “The Key to the Christian’s Joy” wrote,

“Based on the biblical teaching, I would go so far as to say that it is the Christian’s duty, his moral obligation, to be joyful. That means that the failure of a Christian to be joyful is a sin, that unhappiness and a lack of joy are, in a certain way, manifestations of the flesh.

The heart of the New Testament concept is this: a person can have biblical joy even when he is mourning, suffering, or undergoing difficult circumstances. This is because the person’s mourning is directed toward one concern, but in that same moment, he possesses a measure of joy.

How is it possible to remain joyful all the time? Paul gives us the key: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (emphasis added). The key to the Christian’s joy is its source, which is the Lord. If Christ is in me and I am in Him, that relationship is not a sometimes experience. The Christian is always in the Lord and the Lord is always in the Christian, and that is always a reason for joy. Even if the Christian cannot rejoice in his circumstances, if he finds himself passing through pain, sorrow, or grief, he still can rejoice in Christ. We rejoice in the Lord, and since He never leaves us or forsakes us, we can rejoice always.”

As you watch this video and learn about the biblical concept of joy, rejoice yourself knowing that it is the Holy Spirit who produces joy, even when you can’t.

If you enjoyed this video from the Bible Project, you’ll like these as well:

Animated Explanation of ‘The Messiah’

Do You Understand the Psalms?

Understanding the Book of Proverbs

The Gospel of the Kingdom

 

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.