Well, to be honest, I'm afraid to be happy.
Because when I'm happy, it comes with a great disobedience to God.
I never really realized it until a short while ago...but when we consider ourselves happy, we are only fooling ourselves by living in the desires of our sin nature.
For example, I am tempted everyday by pure laziness. All I really want to do is lounge around in my pajamas watching house hunters and mindlessly checking Facebook every five minutes.. Because that makes me happy. But those are the days that I ignore my relationship with God the most. I get so caught up in the pleasure of my desires that I feel, although only temporary, happy.
I started learning about the differences between being happy, and being joyful. And I'd like to share with you some of the ones that, to me, are most important to remember.
Happiness is something the world offers, however JOY can only come from the Lord.
Just think for a minute and come up with a few things that define being happy, and things that make people happy. Then compare that to what the Bible says about joy. One of my favorite verses is John 15:10-11, "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.". Yeah, that's right, obeying God actually does fill your heart with JOY. Not just a little bit of joy, but that your joy may be full. I mean, c'mon, that's pretty cool. People travel the whole world in search for happiness - What a privilege it is to know where real joy comes from.
Happiness is temporary, JOY lasts eternity.
While there are things that make you happy, and some may even last for a lifetime I suppose, there will come a day when it all passes away, and we realize then that none of these things that we saw as important even mattered. Revelation tells us, "...for the former things have passed away". All these things that we see as valuable and important here on Earth...quite frankly are worthless. Even Paul talked about how he considers all things worthless for Christ. What he once saw as valuable, now means nothing compared to what Christ has given him. The things that make us happy...there will come a day when we realize that it served no real purpose at all. But a true JOY that comes from the Lord..it's fulfilling. It lasts not only does it last a lifetime here on Earth, but it serves an eternal purpose. That joy that's hidden in your heart...it lasts an eternity there.
Happiness pleases your desires, while JOY satisfies the soul.
None of us want to admit it, but it's true, we see in Genesis that each of us has a sin nature. A natural desire, as humans, that leads us to sin. Now, I don't know about you, but sometimes what I believe to be something that just makes me happy, is actually something that leads me right into sin and disobedience. But for the momentary time that I'm happy, my sin-nature desires are quite pleased. Not satisfied, but merely pleased. However JOY, that truly satisfies the soul. It lives within you. And eventually, although it's rather difficult at times, you no longer feel such a pull to those desires as you did before.
Happiness comes from external things, JOY comes from within your heart.
This one is rather self-explanitory. Nothing that the world offers can bring the same joy to your heart as the Lord can. And when you have turned to Him, you no longer need happiness from the world. To sum it up, happiness comes from the world (world = bad), and joy comes from God (God = good). Pretty simple, right?
Then why is it so hard to choose joy over happiness?
That sin nature. That's why.
You have to desire and choose good over evil in order to gain joy. The first step, at least to me, is to establish what in your life is pleasing your desires, and what is satisfying your heart and serving a kingdom purpose. And lastly, remind yourself constantly of the differences between happiness and joy. Personally, I have to ask myself what purpose I'm serving - the Lord, or am I putting my happiness above Him?
Thanks for reading along, folks.