It is an odd topic to look into because there isn’t much in Scripture on how to accomplish joy or be joyful. It seems to be based more on when we need joy. But what is joy? If you look up “joy” in the Lexham Bible Dictionary it says joy is “closely related to gladness/happiness, although joy is more a state of being than an emotion; a result of choice.”
So joy isn’t happiness but it is like happiness. It is a choice, not an emotion. So that would mean it is something that we don’t come in & out of, like a mood. Rather, joy is more present, whereas emotion changes constantly based on circumstances surrounding it.
Look up James 1:2-4. What does he tell us about having joy?
So, are we supposed to be happy when we are put through the wringer? Remember what the definition of joy said just a few sentences back: joy is related to happiness, but more a state of being. We have the choice to be happy, but circumstances in life cause the emotion of happiness to turn into the emotion of sadness or anger or frustration. Emotion is an ever-changing thing, but joy is – or can be – more present. When you hear someone say, “she’s such a happy person,” a more accurate description would be, “she is such a joyful person.” Joy is deeper than our emotions. It is emotion on a soul level.
Turn over to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. These verses don’t blatantly cry out joy, but they do point to a joyful spirit. What 3 ways can you develop or strengthen a joyful spirit according to these verses?
In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul is talking about the church in Macedonia. What does he say about them in verse 2?
There are a bunch of words that you don’t typically see used together, especially not in our culture today– overflowing joy, extreme poverty, rich generosity. Read the passage from the NLT: