“Man cannot live without joy; therefore when he is deprived of true spiritual joys it is necessary that he become addicted to carnal pleasures.” ~Thomas Aquinas
There is no such thing as a joyless Christian. The culture of heaven is established in celebration. Scripture contains various commands for us to rejoice. Giving thanks is good for the soul. It creates an inner territory that isn’t easily affected by external circumstances.
All of heaven rejoices in the presence of God. As Kingdom heirs, we should join in the celebration of heaven before we get there. It is worth celebrating now. Joy is the nature of the Father and the chief element of the atmosphere around His throne. Joy is a necessity for every follower of Christ.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
More Than Happiness
Many people indicate that the highest goal in life is happiness. People often say, “I just want to be happy.” Masses of modern Americans equate happiness with sensations of pleasure or fulfillment. In other words, people believe satisfaction has certain feelings attached to it. However, joy is greater than happiness—it’s more profound.
Joy goes beyond happiness. Just as happiness is more than pleasure, joy is more than happiness. Pleasure is a physical experience; it feels good. Happiness is a feeling of elation—a blissful sensation. However, joy is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Joy resides deep within a person’s heart. Joy lives at the core of the human spirit—the part of us that’s connected to God.
God Embodies Joy
Joy exudes from God without effort. Joy is who God is and what He does. In His presence, one doesn’t have to try harder to be happy because joy is a natural effect of being in Christ. In His presence, there is fullness of joy—this means nothing is lacking.
The Father is not trying to bring you to a place of joy. He is trying to bring you to Himself because He is the embodiment of joy. The expression of joy is the atmosphere surrounding God’s presence. When we learn to abide with Jesus, we become recklessly abandoned in divine celebration.
Rejoicing is the will of God for your life. It is the desire of the Father for every believer. The power of joy cannot be overestimated. Delighting in the Lord is an infectious way to live. Joy spills over into others people’s lives when we allow it to be an authentic part of our own.
You Can’t Afford To Live Without It
God is joyous, and we live daily under His smile. Grace is God’s favor. Favor means God is satisfied. Jesus did that, not us, yet we benefit from it. God delights in us and we in Him because of Jesus. As you learn to be thrilled by God, your enjoyment of life increases. You cannot afford to live without joy.
The perspective we develop through rejoicing is our best aid to faith. It is the joyless areas of our lives that must be submitted to fierce examination. Believers everywhere need to return to joy with utmost urgency. Divine joy is unaffected by temporal circumstances when it becomes an orientation of the heart. Joy is a place of contentment, confidence, and everlasting hope.
If joy is the atmosphere of heaven, then the environment that we reproduce here needs to reflect that. If we want to mirror the culture of the Kingdom then the fruit of joy—gratitude, rejoicing, celebration—is all part of the deal.
If you are living without joy, you exist without something that God intends for you to have. Think about it, a joyless person claims to understand something about the most joyous being in the universe, yet they don’t exhibit one of His primary qualities—joy.
Elton Trueblood said, “I don’t trust the theology of any person who doesn’t laugh.” A constant spirit of heaviness cannot be trusted. So, return to joy all ye negative persons! Take off the spirit of heaviness. Put on the garment of praise. I’m so happy I think I’ll blow my shofar now!
Sources: (1) Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster; (2) Approaching the Heart of Prophecy by Graham Cooke