Joy is defined by Merriam-Webster as an emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. Biblical joy expresses itself toward God and toward people. Toward God because our sins have been forgiven and we anticipate eternal life in heaven. Toward people because when I come here, I see the people I love the most. Your faces, your smiles, your warm embraces. And when we come here to worship God, is that joy evident on our faces? Or, the hardest thing we could have possibly done was to wake up this morning and drive here? There must be joy, happiness, thankfulness, appreciation.
Why does joy need to be a part of who we are as God’s children? There’s joy because a Savior was born (Luke 2:10-11). The world tells us sin isn’t a big deal. But it is. Sin will cost us our soul. When we recognize the value of forgiveness, we will have joy (I Pet. 1:8-9). When we make a new purchase (car, TV, fishing pole), the shine eventually wears off. But the joy of knowing your sins are forgiven does not.
Secondly, joy is not wrapped up in our circumstances. The world says we’re happy based on our happenings—how much is in the bank, how healthy you are, how secure your job is. But the world is wrong. Joy is found in the presence of the Lord. Whatever the circumstances are, if the Lord is present in my life, I can be filled with joy.
Lastly, joy is a result of service. Jesus had to deal with the question, “Who’s the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Greatness is serving (Matt. 18:1; 20:20-21, 26-28). And Jesus Himself demonstrates that in John 13 by washing His disciples’ feet. In v. 17, He says, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” The best thing I can do for you is to serve you. The best thing you can do for someone is to serve them.
Joy is a choice. It’s my choice. It’s your choice. I can make misery of everything when everything is great. But if I choose joy, that joy ought to be seen and it ought to be expressed. We should not be ashamed to express that joy. Are you in a joyous state or a sad state? Let us all be able to say what Paul says in Acts 20:24: “I may finish my race with joy.”