I believe most of us would say we have had moments of joy and happiness in our lives. Some we plan and work for, like a well needed vacation or buying a car. Others happen suddenly and unexpectedly, like a double-eagle in golf or a stranger buying our dinner. These are good times we want to remember and we hope more like them will come in the future.
Joy and happiness are points of Bible importance because God wants us to know how we can enjoy life. Members of the church at Antioch “rejoiced” over a letter’s encouraging words. (Acts 15:30-31) Paul “rejoiced” when Titus brought back good news from Corinth. (2 Cor. 7:13) We look forward to times like these, when news or events make us happy.
Recently, my wife and I cared for our granddaughter for a couple of days. Her dad and mom, our son and daughter-in-law, spent a little time on a well-deserved break from their normal routine. I know they had fun, but the grandparents got the best end of that deal. We naturally want to be around family and loved ones because they make us feel good. Our joy and happiness often go with the people we love.
If you look at the writings of Paul, they show his pleasure and joy at being around Christians. He longed to see the members at Rome so they might encourage one another. (Rom. 1:11-12) He wanted to come to them with “joy by the will of God.” (Rom. 15:32) Paul also rejoiced at the prospect of seeing the Christians in Thessalonica. (1 Thess. 3:9-10)
Do we enjoy being around other Christians? Do we look for and make opportunities to spend time with God’s people? Paul “longed for” the brethren at Philippi because they were his “joy and crown.” The apostle John writes about speaking “face to face, that our joy may be full.” (2 John 12) There is something wonderful about being around people we love.
If we want to spend time with Christians, there are multiple ways and chances for us to enjoy one another’s company. God has given us the assembly, when Saints gather for worship, as a way of coming together. (1 Cor. 11:18-29) Divine revelation tells us to not forsake “the assembling of ourselves together”. (Heb. 10:25) Christians got together in their homes to “teach and preach Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:42) Peter says for us to be “hospitable to one another”, and so we can find pleasure in each other’s friendship on a social level. (1 Peter 4:9)
Too often, some in the Lord’s church want to be around non-Christians more than they do their brothers and sisters in Christ. I know we have to be in the world and around people of the world, but there is something wrong when we always want to be in the company of sinners more than Christians. Is it because we long for their life-style and choice, all the while believing their path leads to true happiness? The Hebrew writer describes whatever pleasure one might find in sin as “passing pleasures.” (Heb. 11:24-26) There is nothing about the joys of sin that lasts for long.
We have all experienced the disappointments and fleeting nature of earthly joys. Whether sinful or not, worldly pleasures do not last long and cannot satisfy our deeper needs. A good and happy life is based on God’s Will and trusts in His direction for happiness. We must learn from Him what is worthy of our rejoicing and excitement. To begin with, we must know that our joy in living comes from God. As Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, “We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Rom. 5:11)
Paul said to have “no confidence in the flesh”, referring to the Old Testament law and to those who put their trust in personal accomplishments. Instead we worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:1-3) We also see a connection between being filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52) In the book of Romans, Paul connects Joy and peace with believing and the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 5:13) Even Jeremiah ties the God’s Word with man’s joy and rejoice of heart. (Jeremiah 15:16)
Good spiritual choices will often give us sudden and unexpected moments of thrill and joy. How did you feel when you became a Christian in baptism? Or better yet, how did you feel when your spouse or children accepted Christ by being baptized? The Jailer at Philippi “rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” (Acts 16:33-34) When my three boys lead their first prayer or song, or preached their first lesson, it was a time of great happiness. I still get excited when anyone obeys the gospel or when a Child of God steps out to serve.
More than just a moment of joy, our hope in Christ and faithful service give us a consistent and lasting rejoicing in this life. (Phil. 4:4-7) Not because of what this world offers, but because we know there is a better life to come. It is why we can endure persecution and hardship without becoming bitter. (1 Peter 1:6-9) Paul reminds us that Christians enjoy a “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding”, and it will guard our “hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7) So the joy and happiness from God becomes a part of our life-style and who we are as people.