The Difference Between Joy And Happiness


John 15:11  ‘These things have I spoken to you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.’

If we judge by the dictionary definition we will find that there is very little difference between happiness and joy.  Each is described a ‘very glad feeling’ or ‘sense of intense pleasure.’  Happiness in the secular world is based, for the most part, on one’s circumstances or any number of external factors such as possessions, power, or prestige.  Whenever these things are diminished or disappear, the happiness associated with them is lost as well.  Abraham Lincoln said that ‘most folks are about as happy as they decide to be.’  In other words, people can decide to be happy if they make a conscious decision as to just what their happiness will depend on.  Again, this type of happiness will only last as long as the external influence from which it results is present.  However, Jesus had much more in mind when He offered His joy to those who would accept His way of life and salvation.  In the passage from which today’s verse is taken, Jesus speaks of ‘abiding in Him, and He abiding in us’, as well as keeping His commandments.  These are the ‘things I (Jesus) have spoken to you’ which are the source of true joy.

Jesus’ promise of abundant life here and eternal life hereafter are two of the joy producing realities of the Christian life.  Both of these are joys which originate within a believer and are not dependent upon external circumstances.  While happiness depends largely on circumstances, the Holy Spirit is able to produce joy in the heart of a believer in spite of adverse circumstances.  And, in agreement with the words of 2 Corinthians 4:18, ‘the things which are seen are temporal, while the things which are not seen are eternal.’  Only God can give the joy which none other can give, and nothing or nobody can take it away.

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