May 6, 2009
American Heritage defines joy as: "Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness."
Isn't that radical!?! I've heard a lot of teaching about the difference between happiness (bad and fleeting) and joy (good and lasting); teaching that left me confused and, frankly, afraid of either. I'm going to step out and say that I don't believe there is a significant theological difference between joy and happiness. God wants us to have both!
As Christians, with the warnings about sinful pleasure in the Bible (Proverbs 10:23), we get afraid of ANY pleasure. But just like Snoopy here, God wants us to seek pleasure relentlessly and unashamedly -- godly pleasure, that is (Matthew 13:44; Psalm 16:11). For me, maybe it's being out in nature, enjoying time with my doggies, talking to you about God-things, the satisfaction of a job well done, or a just good cup of coffee with my feet up.
Joy is a command with an explanation point (Philippians 4:4). Even Jesus, our example, endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2b). Perhaps our greatest joy is found in what we suffer for Christ (1 Peter 4:13). We don't need to be afraid that unashamedly seeking pleasure and satisfaction will lead us astray. It leads us straight into the heart of God, the most satisfying Source of joy!
I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.
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