Happiness vs. Joy

What is the difference between happiness and joy? Is there one? They're both positive emotions, correct? But certainly there is a difference. 

Happiness (n): the quality or state of being happy; good fortune; pleasure; contentment.

Joy (n): the expression or display of glad feeling.

Can you see the difference? 

Happiness is solely based on our circumstances. We experience happiness when we get a promotion at work, eat a delicious meal, and get paid for our hard work. Happiness is circumstance focused.

Joy, on the other hand, is something we, as Christians, can experience at anytime because our eyes have been unveiled to see God's great grace. The hope we have in Christ fuels our constant rejoicing. Joy is Christ focused. 

One Without The Other

You can’t be joyful without being happy. It is an automatic response to being joyful. However, you can be happy without being joyful. That looks like a person who lets their circumstances determine their emotions. Those people look for happiness outside of Jesus’ hope.

How Do You Exhibit Joy?

Throughout scripture, we are commanded to rejoice (Psalm 32:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4; Revelation 19:7).

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
–Mathew 5:12

So what do it look like to display joy? 
•    Sing
•    Smile
•    Kindness
•    Be loving 
•    Gladness
•    Contentment
•    Be intentional
•    Have peace

Simply put, we should have a godly attitude towards life and all people. These are all adjectives and actions that describe how Christ makes us feel. All of these come from our Savior.

What Not To Do?

We are called to control our feelings (Galatians 5:23) and take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), right?  We cannot let out emotions rule us. 

It is dangerous to make things other than Christ ultimate. What happens when they shatter? We also shatter, break, and crumble into a million pieces. Sometimes, our whole world is destroyed. 

But when Jesus is the most important, we have eternal hope and joy, regardless of what happens around us. The loudest voice in our heads is not our circumstances or emotions…it’s JESUS.

Part of having joy is having an eternal perspective. It takes effort to do this; to see past our circumstances and look towards our Father.

See you in the round,


“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."