Most people I know want to be happy. In fact, in our culture there’s a prevalent idea that “I have a right (or deserve) to be happy. I don’t hear many people saying “I want to be joyful”, yet most of us would agree that we want to experience joy on a regular basis.
Personally, I like being happy AND being filled with joy. However, happiness is usually a by-product of circumstances. Circumstances change – I have no control over them, but I do have some measure of control over joy! I know – I know … We have no real control over life, but I have peace in the fact that my life is in God’s hands & He is in control. What I mean by saying I have some control over my joy is that joy is the result of a life submitted to Jesus Christ. And joy is an attitude you cannot take from me even when my circumstances are bad.
Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. (John 15:11 NASB). “THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE MADE FULL” is a way cool condition that Jesus promises to produce in us, but we do have some responsibility in this.
Read John 15:1-10 and you’ll get an idea of HOW TO BE FILLED WITH JOY. It has to do with living in the closest possible relationship with Jesus – allowing His Word to permeate your life – choosing to do what He says in His Word – and bearing fruit (for His Kingdom not your own).
By the way, a sign that you are truly abiding in (living in community / fellowship / closeness with) Jesus is bearing fruit….and going to church all your life – becoming what you consider to be deep – attending tons of Bible studies – doesn’t mean you are bearing fruit. Those things are all important, but if you’re not doing what Christ said – you won’t bear fruit. In addition, Jesus said we can know we’re truly following Him when we have love for one another; so how’s you attitude toward other followers of Christ? What kind of speech do you use when talking about them?
I agree with Pastor Robert Morris who says as followers of Christ we don’t have a right to be happy – we have a right to be like Jesus and the more like Jesus we become the happier we’ll be. Actually, the more joyful we’ll be!