I was meditating today on John 15:11.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 15:11 (ESV)

While I was meditating on this verse a lot came to mind. I thought about the differences between happiness and joy. Although happiness is a synonym for joy and vice-versa, they aren’t the same thing. I also thought about the joy of the Lord. What is it, and what does it mean to be filled with the joy of the Lord? How would my life look if I were, indeed, filled with the joy of the Lord?

A primary difference I see, between happiness and joy, is that happiness comes from external things. Something happens, and I can either be happy, sad, or indifferent to it. Generally speaking. Joy comes from within but can also come from something external. When I think about the goodness of God, I feel a resounding joy inside of me. Happiness is fleeting, while the joy I find from the Lord is always there.

I can also see happiness promoting joy and joy promoting happiness. For example, I file my taxes and discover I’m getting a refund. This makes me happy. When I realize this is a way God provides for me, and I think about his goodness, faithfulness, and all that He is, I am filled with joy. Tomorrow, I might get an unexpected bill that wipes out that refund. I may not be happy, but I can take joy in the situation because God has provided. The joy I find in the Lord can inspire me to do things that promote happiness. I write a poem, sing a song, or just tell someone about it. These things make me happy and add to the joy I have in the Lord.

Joy is also a fruit of the Spirit, while happiness is not. This tells me that joy comes from God which makes sense when I consider what brings me joy. It also makes sense because I can find joy beyond myself. A feeling of pleasure and contentment that comes from the things that happen for or to other people. I’m filled with joy when someone comes to Christ. I also find joy in things like mercy.

I think I have a pretty good idea of the differences between happiness and joy. I haven’t fully investigated the differences between the two, but I think I have a decent enough grasp to address my other questions.

What’s the joy of the Lord, then? I suppose I’ve already touched upon this question while I was examining some of the differences between happiness and joy. I think I’ve also touched upon what it means to be filled with the joy of the Lord. Based on what I’ve thought about so far, I’d say the joy of the Lord comes from knowing God and being connected to Him. It’s being content in all circumstances. I suppose that faith could be an expression or byproduct of the joy we can have in the Lord. Faithfulness is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Since joy and faith are both from the Holy Spirit, I’d say that we have joy because of the Holy Spirit inside of us.

When Nehemiah was encouraging his fellow Israelites, he told them this:

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

Nehemiah was encouraging the people to remember the Lord in their grief. The promises God gave them, and who he is to them. When we remember God’s promises to us, we’re filled with joy. I cannot help be filled with love for God when I think about who he is and everything he’s done. If I’m filled with joy and love for God, that gives me strength. Not the Hulk strength, but an inner degree of fortitude to handle anything that comes my way because I know God is with me. The Holy Spirit inside of me connects me to Him, bringing love and joy to me.

What would my life look like if I were filled with the joy of the Lord? Well, I have the Holy Spirit, which brings me joy. I have the love of the Holy Spirit, and I have faith. I suppose I would also have peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, and self-control. The fruits of the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22-23). I wouldn’t be anxious anymore because God’s perfect love casts out all fear (cf. 1 John 4:18). Things like fear and anxiety can hold us back from doing what we need to do. Without them, I’d have a life where I did everything I needed to do because I also had the faith that everything would work out. When I think about it like this, it really opens up my mind to what my life could look like if I were filled with the joy of the Lord. It would be a life of victory.

Victory doesn’t mean I’d never have any problems. It doesn’t even mean that everything would go the way I want it to go. It means I’d always see the victory because Jesus purchased it for me. I’d have this joy to hold onto. I’d be the man God sees me as and not the man I see when I look into the mirror. I’d be complete.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

John 15:11 (NIV)

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.