Summary: We often talk about the Joy of our faith but what does that Joy look like? And how can we choose to be joyful.
What Jesus Said About Joy
Does anyone remember Balki’s “Dance of Joy”? A few people, does anyone remember Balki and his cousin Larry? The sitcom “Perfect Strangers”? Does anyone know what I’m talking about? I feel so old. And so for all of you who missed this great theatre from yesteryear, here is the dance of Joy in its purest form?
Here we are, week four of our series “What Jesus said About Our Emotions”. Since the beginning of May we have looked at what Jesus said about Love, Hate and Fear. This morning I want to look at what Jesus said about being “Happy” about being joyful.
And I know that sometimes, especially in church we try and separate those things and we say that happiness is tied to our outward circumstances while joy is an inward condition. Even to the point while I was putting this message together that one commentator I read stated that the root of Happy is “Hap” the same as “happen” which shows that it is a result of what happens in our life. I rolled my eyes, decided that I wouldn’t embarrass him by posting his name and picture.
But for most of us that’s a really hard distinction. If we don’t feel happy we find it difficult to say that we are actually experiencing joy at that particular point in our lives. “I am so miserable, but deep down I am full of joy.” I have met people through the years so have testified to having the “Joy filled life” but they look like they fell out of the cranky tree and then got beat with a grumpy stick. They don’t look like happy people and most people wouldn’t say that they were filled with joy either.
And I know the line; well I’m just not very demonstrative, that’s just the way I am, I’m smiling on the inside. Perhaps some of you who were brought up in Sunday School are familiar with the song “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands, If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands, If you are happy and you know it and you really want to show it, if you are happy and you know it clap your hands.” I’m not sure that we need to walk around clapping or doing the Dance of Joy, but on the other hand I don’t think that Christians should go through life in a permanent grump, looking like they’ve been sucking on lemons. If you are happy at some point it might be a good idea to notify your face.
Jesus told his followers there should be times they “Leap for Joy”, he said they should be “Filled with Joy”, that “Their sadness would be turned to joy”. He said they would have “Abundant Joy” and that nobody would be able to “Steal their joy”. And time after time Jesus told those who chose to follow him to be happy. Not just joyful but to be happy. And he seemed to indicate that it was something that we could control, that it was a choice we could make.
So what is happy? It was Abraham Lincoln who said “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
But what does it mean to be happy? I guess it depends on who you ask. British Author Joseph Addison said “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” Which was repeated by Tom Boddett when he said “They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world. Someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
Ingrid Berman said “Happiness is good health and a bad memory.” Daniel Boone said “All you need for happiness is a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife.” And Alan Alda said “It isn't necessary to be rich and famous to be happy. It's only necessary to be rich.” It was William Lyon Phelps who said “If happiness truly consisted in physical ease and freedom from care, than the happiest individual would not be either man or woman, it would be, I think, an American cow”
But however you define happiness you need to understand that happy is something you can decide to be. Remember you will either control your emotions or your emotions will control you. It was Leo Buscaglia who wrote “Happiness and love are just a choice away.”
So why should we be happy? Well Jesus said in John 15:11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! So I guess the short answer is that it Being Happy is What Jesus Desires for You. Apparently Jesus wanted his followers to be happy, he said that he taught us what he taught us so that we would be not only be filled with joy but that our joy would overflow and affect other people. Wow! Stop and chew on that for a while. Your joy will overflow, you will not be able to contain your joy, people will think of you as a happy joy filled person. It’s unfortunate that if you asked people outside the church to describe Christians that joy probably wouldn’t be the first thing that sprung too mind.