More than sixty times the word “joy” is used in the New Testament. It is translated from at least four different Greek words. The meaning of it can not easily be determined merely by going to Thayer’s or Vine’s, but by an examination of every passage in which it is used.

An interesting passage that suggest a little deeper meaning than we normally attach to the word is Hebrews 12:2, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” James 1:2 should also cause us deeper thought, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations.” He is saying that we can determine to look upon adversity and trials as something to welcome, for we know that it can work for good.

Joy is not to be equated with fun or what we normally think of as happiness. Paul Walker, in How to Keep Your Joy says, “Joy is a sense of imperturbable gladness that sings when rejected, praises when persecuted, and stands when attacked.”

Matthew 5:11-12 gives us a little more insight into it. Jesus says, “Blessed are ye, when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven.” The same idea is in Luke 6:23. And in Col. 1:24, Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.”

Although it may be very difficult for us to get the exact meaning of the word “joy” and its cognates, it should be easy for us to see that joy is more than a mood we get into when we are about to have fun, or an emotion we experience when something pleasant happens to us. Joy is an attitude that accepts whatever may confront us in life as we live it under God’s direction, for we know that “all things work together for good to them that love the Lord” (Rom. 8:28). Joy is the attitude which causes us to be able to take whatever problems and crises that confront us and rejoice in the fact that God can use them for His glory and for our good.

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