Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and we may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you sign up or purchase products or services mentioned.
Are we supposed to always be happy as Christians?
There is a misconception among Christians that we must always be happy. I’m not sure if anyone has definitively said this or if it’s just an unspoken rule, but this misconception remains the same.
Maybe you go to church, pretending you’re happy and all is fine. You figure you’re supposed to be joyful as a Christian. But is happiness and joy the same?
What does the Bible say about happiness and joy?
Biblical Definition of Joy and Happiness
What is the difference between joy and happiness? What does the Bible say about joy and happiness?
Let’s first turn to the Bible to find out what the biblical definition of joy and happiness is.
Biblical Definition of Happiness
There aren’t too many instances where the word “happy” is in the Bible but there are a few instances.
Here’s what the Bible says about happiness:
- Psalm 144:15 – “Happy are the people whose God is the LORD.”
- 2 Chronicles 9:7 – “How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!”
This list isn’t exhaustive. There are other instances where the word “happy” is used in the Old Testament.
The word for happy in this passage within Psalm and 2 Chronicles is the Hebrew word esher. Another meaning for this word is blessed. Instead of “happy” some translations say blessed.
Biblical Definition of Joy
There are many more instances of the word “joy” in the Bible than there is of the word “happy”. Here are the biblical definitions of joy according to the Bible.
Joy in the Old Testament
Here’s what the Old Testament says about joy:
- Psalm 16:11 – “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
- Isaiah 55:12 – “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
- Proverbs 10:28 – “The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.”
- Jeremiah 15:16 – “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.”
Again, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are many more instances where the word “joy” is used. The Hebrew word for joy used in these verses is simchah which means joy, gladness, and mirth.
Joy in the New Testament
The New Testament also speaks of joy. Here’s what the New Testament says about joy:
- John 15:11 – “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
- Galatians 5:22 -23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
- James 1:2-3 – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
These are only a few instances the word joy is used in the New Testament. The Greek word for joy used in these verses is chara which means joy and delight.
Difference Between Happiness and Joy Biblically
So, what’s the difference between joy and happiness? Is there a difference between joy and happiness?
I don’t believe there’s a stark difference between happiness and joy. The Bible uses both words. However, the word joy is used far more than the word happy.
As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy (Galatians 5:22-23). This means joy should be present in our lives.
This means Christians should generally be happy people, regardless of their circumstances.
Bible Verses About Having Joy and Rejoicing
Here are Bible verses about having joy and rejoicing:
- Romans 12:15 – “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
- Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
- Psalm 118:22-24 – “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
What does the Bible say about seeking happiness?
Seeking happiness shouldn’t be our primary focus. Our primary focus is to serve the Lord and be Christ centered in all we do.
Following Christ is ultimately what will make you happy. Following Jesus won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
Happiness from Christ won’t look the same as happiness from the world. One example of this is found in the book of Acts.
The apostles were persecuted for teaching people about God at the temple. After their persecution, it reads, “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:41 ESV).
Did you catch that? It says they were rejoicing for being persecuted. In other words, they were happy to be persecuted. The joy God offers and gives you is different from the happiness the world offers.
Happiness is a byproduct of following Christ and loving Him.
Does God want us to be happy in this life?
The joy God offers is different from the joy the world has to offer.
In Luke 10, we see what kind of joy we should have as Christians. It reads,
“The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven,” (Luke 10:17-20 NASB).
The seventy that were sent out were rejoicing in the authority they were given by Jesus over the enemy. However, Jesus told them to not rejoice in this, but to rejoice in their salvation.
As Christians, our joy should be rooted in our salvation. This is where our happiness should stem from.
Check out these related blog posts: