When times get tough, it is easy to turn inward and get angry. And even let that anger evolve into bitterness, resentment, sadness or other emotions that separate us from God. These emotions rob us of the promise of the abundance of joy God gave us because of His son's death on the cross. So, what does joy look like in our lives? We hope these nine Bible verses about joy will inspire and encourage you in your walk with the Lord!
What is Biblical Joy?
Joy is the opposite of despair, misery, sorrow, and pain. The world is full of these negative emotions. But we can have joy in the midst of even the most difficult circumstances. Psalm 30:5 says, "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." It’s impossible to completely avoid sorrow in this life. Yet, we are promised joy will quickly follow if we put our faith in God. He will wipe away our tears and be our hope in our pain and suffering.
What is the difference between joy and happiness?
Happiness is a fleeting feeling that changes based on your personal circumstances. Happiness is also a temporary emotion that wavers among the many emotions we can experience. People try to achieve happiness by acquiring possessions, working hard and accomplishing tasks and trying to control people and relationships. Joy, on the other hand, is more than a feeling; it is a state of being.
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How do you get joy?
Joy is listed as one of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…" Joy must be cultivated. As we plant the seeds of faith and hope in Christ in our lives, the fruit of joy grows. When that fruit is ripened in our lives, we can use it to nourish our souls and edify those around us.
How can I always be joyful?
1 Thessalonians 5: says, "See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." By doing good to others, praying and living our lives in thanksgiving for all circumstances, we can always have the joy promised to us through Christ.
Proverbs 10:28– "The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing." There are moments when it is tempting to be jealous of those who live their lives separate from the Gospel and reap the benefits of a good life. But this is narrow-minded thinking. When we live a righteous life, we may not see the financial benefits of a posh life with Christ, but we reap the benefits of a life filled with joy-a characteristic non-believers live their lives without.
Nehemiah 8:10– Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." In this verse, the prophet Nehemiah declares that joy is the emotion to lean on during tough times. When we do this, our mourning will turn into joy. This seems counter-intuitive to the world. But to the Lord, it is His promise that when we follow Him, even mourning can be turned into joy.
Bible Verses On Joy
John 16:20– "Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy." Grief is a natural part of life. No matter how close we are to the Lord, we will still experience grief in this broken world. But it's OK! According to this verse, the grief we experience will turn to joy, eventually. It may come slower than we would like. But God promises our grief is not a permanent destination, but only a part of the process.
John 16:22– "So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." Our mourning and grief over losing a loved one can be turned into a source of joy. While non-believers grieve without hope because the future of their loved one's soul hangs in the balance, we can be assured that those that place their faith and trust in the Lord grieve on this earth, but only temporarily. As they know they will be reunited with their loved ones in heaven.
Bible Verses About Joy
James 1:2-3: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." This is a tough verse to apply to our lives. When our life situation is the worst, how can we possibly respond with joy? Yet, responding with joy to the difficult trials of life is the way an unbelieving world gets to know God in a new way. When we respond in ways that are counterintuitive to the way the world looks at life, non-believers take notice. Unbelievers may never pick up a Bible, but they will understand the verses we apply to our lives.
Joy is a trait everyone is looking for in his/her life. When we can learn to live with joy, even the toughest circumstances will be ones we can respond to in a way that spreads the gospel message.
Galatians 5:22– "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness..." When we have the Holy Spirit, we have joy. His is a gift from God for walking in obedience with Him. Fruit grows because it has been watered and has access to the sun. In the same way, we need to water the fruit in our lives through the Word of God and prayer. We also need access to the Son-through a deeper understanding and an intimate relationship through listening and practicing disciplines like fasting, journaling, etc.
Bible Verses Centered Around Joy
1 Peter 1:8-9: "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." Joy is not only a fruit of a life lived with Christ. It also results in salvation. When we choose joy over anger, bitterness, rage, malice, and gossip, we reap joy in our lives as well as other's lives. To have joy we must have faith. Faith that God is who He says He is and has our wellbeing at heart.
2 John 1:12: "I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete." In this individualistic, technological age, it is easy to flip on a TV or podcast and pretend we are having true fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. But did you know that true fellowship can only be achieved through actual relationships?
True Fellowship Fosters Joy
John wrote this to his church in the wake of a church split. John understood what it was like to have the comfort of his brothers and sisters in Christ around him. He also knew what it was like to have them leave because they didn't like how he led the church. We cannot have joy without true fellowship. While social media may try to offer community, true community only happens within a context of the local church family.
Hebrews 12:2– "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." It is hard to believe that Jesus had joy when He had to endure the cross. Yet, it is clear that He did. He didn't focus on the temporal pain of the cross, but rather what His death would accomplish for mankind forevermore.
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If we want to become more like Jesus, we must fix our eyes on what the pain in our lives accomplishes rather than on the temporal suffering that is refining us into who God wants us to be. When we give Christ his glory, non-believers will begin to ask us why we act with joy towards our circumstances rather than anger or pain.
Joy is not an easy fruit of the spirit to cultivate in our lives. However, joy is possible for all of us who believe. With faith, we can have joy even in the toughest of situations. Look to Jesus. Participate in the gift of true fellowship and choose joy rather than anger or rage. Then joy will be planted-and flourish-in our lives.
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