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Difference Between "Joy" and "the Joy of the Lord"

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

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You are completely wrong if you think joy and the joy of the Lord are the same. You can experience joy on your own, but having the joy of the Lord is so much different.

God created every person with a longing for His joy. Therefore, the joy we plan for and seek fails in comparison to the joy of the Lord. So, what is the difference between joy and the joy of the Lord?

Joy: Definition

Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure. According to the world, joy is also defined as the emotion that comes about by well-being, success, good fortune, or possessing what one desires.

The joy you find in getting things might disappear when those things are gone. The business you started probably brought you joy the first few years when you were making a profit, but what happens if your business goes bankrupt? Will you still maintain your joy?

You might have been filled with great joy when your spouse brought home a puppy for your birthday. What happens if the puppy runs away or dies? Will your joy die as well?

Those two examples show that world joy can come and go. However, the joy of the Lord is more permanent and does not depend on what happens around you. Rather, it happens because of what's in you.

The Joy of the Lord: Meaning

You do not have to rely on your own effort to find joy. You do not have to rely on anyone else for your joy. You will never be able to experience pure joy without God. God wants for you to have joy that does not come from success, material possessions, or earthly relationships. God wants you to have the joy of the Lord because He is the Creator of joy. Pure joy does not exist without God. He is One who supplies everlasting joy.

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.” (John 15:11)

Some people just can't be joyful when they have troubles, sickness, and sufferings of any kind. No matter how hard they try, they just can't muster up any joy. The reason is that they are trying to find joy on their own.

The ability to feel joy doesn't come from anything we can do ourselves. Pure joy comes only from God. The joy God gives is all-powerful. It is a spiritual quality and a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The joy of the Lord is deep-rooted and does not disappear when we trouble comes. The joy of the Lord outlasts any trouble you might have.

"The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength"

Nehemiah, along with workers, rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, set up a new temple, and rededicated themselves to follow the law of God.

After all the work was done, the workers were mourning and weeping because they had lived without the law for so long while they were in exile (Nehemiah 8:9). Nehemiah spoke these words to encourage them.

“Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Nehemiah knew that completing the work was a reason to rejoice and that the strength of God was sufficient to protect them and provide for them. In other words, God's strength would be their strength through joy.

Philippians: Paul's Joy Book

Paul wrote four books while he was under house arrest. They are Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. The short book of Philippians has only four chapters. Throughout the entire book, Paul encouraged the people of Philippi to rejoice and experience joy even though he himself was in chains.

In the "Joy" book, Paul used the word "joy" 19 times. He said people should have joy in all circumstances and not just when they get what they want. He stated that there is joy in serving others. He told the people to be joyful by having faith and to experience joy by giving.

Ways to Experience the Joy of the Lord

Because God put inside us a longing for His joy, He must have also placed within us ways for it to happen. The following scriptures are helpful.

  • “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.” (Psalm 5:11)
  • “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:11)
  • “Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! “God is the source of all joy. It is a key characteristic of who he is.” (Psalm 66:1)
  • “Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” (Philippians 3:1)
  • “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Those verses show that having joy is not a suggestion. It is one of the most repeated commands in the Bible.

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