What Is Joy in Christianity? (2023)

James tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds. But what is joy? Do we have a definition for joy? And what in the world could James possibly have meant? After all, tribulations seem like anything but joyous occasions.

What Is Joy in the Bible

There is a familiar verse in James 1:2 that humanly doesn’t seem to make much sense. In this very practical New Testament letter, James begins his important teaching about facing trials by writing this, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (NKJV).

It’s probably true that most readers may hear that verse and respond by asking a salient follow-up question, “How can that possibly be true?” James’ teaching doesn’t quite make sense. How is it possible to have joy when we experience life’s “various trials”?

The process of learning to respond with joy during times of trials in life must begin with a conscious awareness that God is at work in our lives and that He has a tangible purpose for why we may be experiencing these trials.

In other words, if we have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our own personal savior (Romans 10:9), and if we believe that His Word teaches us that God is at work in our lives (Philippians 2:13), then we will come to the logical conclusion that trials, suffering, and difficult times in our lives are ultimately designed by God and that He has a specific purpose for us in mind.

The Bible makes this point in this same passage. Let’s look again at James 1:2, but let’s add verse 3, “My brethren, count it all joy, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (NKJV).

(Video) How Do You Define Joy?

The text is clear. We can respond to life’s trials with genuine joy if we knowthat the Lord has a purpose for why He would allow those difficult times of suffering and trials. In this passage, the purpose for trials was to produce patience or endurance (the ability to hold up under a trial) in our lives.

Knowing that our loving Heavenly Father is doing something specific in our lives and that He is doing what is best for us helps us respond with genuine joy. Life’s trials are certainly not fun, but we can react to those painful situations with joy if we understand that God is demonstrating His love for us through those circumstances.

Romans 15:13 says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." So God can fill us with joy. But do we have a proper understanding and definition for the gift of joy? Let's define it below.

What Is the Definition of Real Joy?

Let’s go back to the beginning and identify a working definition for joy. Simply put, Biblical joy is choosing to respond to external circumstances with inner contentment and satisfaction, because we know that God will use these experiences to accomplish His work in and through our lives.

James is telling his readers that they can choose to respond with joy, even during times of trials and sufferings. Joy is a choice! But it does come from the Lord — and He alone is the originator of true joy. We don’t have to produce it or drum it up on our own.

What Does the Bible Teach Us about Joy?

1. God, Himself, is the source of our joy

(Video) Joy

Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a list of the fruits of the spirit — and joy is listed there as one of the byproducts of the Holy Spirit living and abiding in us. This chapter in Galatians tells us that it is possible to “live in the Spirit” and “walk in theSpirit” (Galatians 5:16 and 25), meaning that He will naturally produce His fruit in our lives as we live for Him.

God alone can produce true joy — and He does that naturally through His Spirit living in those who have put their trust in Him. It’s important for us to understand that only God Himself can give us the ability to respond to life’s difficult circumstances with that inner contentment and satisfaction.

2. We can choose to respond to life’s trials with joy when we consider God’s purpose for those times of suffering

It’s true that only God can supply genuine joy. However, there is a key technique in James 1:2 to help us. Once again, this verse says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Notice the word “count.”

Some other English versions of the Bible translate it, “consider.” It’s a word that means to systematically scrutinize or to examine as in taking an exam (see Jamieson-Fausset-Brown “Bible Commentary” in Logos Bible Software). The idea here is that the believer should thoroughly list the potential advantages of this situation to gain a better understanding of God may want to accomplish.

A simple illustration of this truth would be a child counting the change in their piggy bank and then realizing that they have more money than they thought. The old chorus Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman, Jr. makes the same point, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” When we truly count or considerwhat God is doing, we will conclude that indeed our response should be one of joy.

(Video) Why Joy Is More Christian Than Happiness

3. It is possible to have joy to the fullest even during life’s most difficult times

It’s also important to note the simple word “all”in James 1:2.The writer uses it to describe the kind of joy that can only come from God Himself. It is a word that means completely or wholly. This is not just “some” joy. We can experience “all joy,” orjoy to the fullest, or the most complete joy.

The Apostle Peter also writes about this kind of joy even in the midst of a variety of trials in 1 Peter 1:6, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” He teaches us that we can “greatly rejoice.”

This is an overflowing, exuberance-filled, lively joy. That is exactly the kind of joy that God’s people can experience even when faced with a variety of trials or difficult times. God provides that abundant and complete joy.

It is a natural human inclination to think that living through trials and negative circumstances would not be an occasion for joy. Choosing to respond to life’s difficult situations with inner contentment and satisfaction doesn’t seem to make sense.

Yet, the believer can experience genuine joy to the fullest by taking the initiative to actively consider all that God is doing and that He has a definite purpose in mind for His people.

(Video) My Life Is Endless Drudgery — How Do I Find Joy in Christ?

Joy doesn't mean forcing happiness during sad circumstances. We can usually tell when someone tries to fake it until they make it. But joy comes during every season. It is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Joy comes from our choices to choose joy.


This article is part of our Christian Terms catalog, exploring words and phrases of Christian theology and history. Here are some of our most popular articles covering Christian terms to help your journey of knowledge and faith:

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What is joy in Christianity? ›

Christian joy is not merely an emotion, rather it is a gift from God (Rom 15:13), sourced in His character and empowered by His promises. The fullness of joy is found in God's presence (Ps 16:11), and belief in God is the only thing on earth that can fill our hearts with this inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:8).

Why is joy important for Christians? ›

Through that joy, they unlock a sense of purpose and hope which ultimately releases them from poverty. For God's children, the power of joy is never-ending. Although not one fruit of the spirit is more important than another, joy enables us to experience the others in the way that Jesus did.

What is the true meaning of joy? ›

The true definition of joy goes beyond the limited explanation presented in a dictionary — “a feeling a great pleasure and happiness.” True joy is a limitless, life-defining, transformative reservoir waiting to be tapped into. It requires the utmost surrender and, like love, is a choice to be made.

What is joy as per Bible? ›

Simply put, Biblical joy is choosing to respond to external circumstances with inner contentment and satisfaction, because we know that God will use these experiences to accomplish His work in and through our lives.

What Jesus says about joy? ›

In John 15:11, Jesus says: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” The joy you are to have as a Christian is the joy of Jesus. He says my joy, not joy like mine. Jesus wants to take the joy that He has and place it in you.

How do Christians get joy? ›

Joy comes when we trust the Lord. Placing our trust in God brings joy. We have a God who loves us more than can we imagine, a God who is more powerful than we can comprehend, and who has promised to help us if we put our trust in Him.

What is the spiritual meaning of joy? ›

Joy is a choice. Rick Warren gave us this definition of joy: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”

What is joy and why is it important? ›

Joy is a great predictor of good health

There's research to prove that joy boosts our immune systems, fights stress and pain, and improves our chance of living a longer life. Being joyful could quite literally add years to life - don't you just think that's the most awesome thing ever?!

What does God promise about joy? ›

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:12). “Leap for joy” (Luke 6:23). “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Yes, joy is possible, joy so real and rich that we turn to friends and neighbors and say, “Rejoice with me” (Luke 15:6, 9).

How to find joy in Jesus? ›

How Do You Feel Joy in the Lord?
  1. Discover the Lord's Purpose for You. You are more than ordinary. ...
  2. Find Joy in Your Circumstances. One of the keys to finding joy is to recognize God's hand in your life, even during challenging moments. ...
  3. Remember That Joy Multiplies. ...
  4. Look for God in the Ordinary and Simple.
Nov 22, 2019

What is an example of joy? ›

Joy is an emotion, and emotions are wordless. They're pure physical sensations in our bodies. We express the emotion of joy in many physical ways. For example, we jump for joy when we win a hard-fought competition, or we double over in uncontrollable laughter when someone relates a hilarious story.

What does joy in the Lord mean? ›

The joy of The Lord, which is the gladness of heart comes from knowing God, abiding in Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. Let us know him in every aspect, in our decision making, actions, behaviors and communicate with him daily, he is the foundation of our life. Nothing happens without him.

What are the three types of joy? ›

Shri Ramakrishna:- There are three kinds of Ānanda, joy: the joy of worldly enjoyment, the joy of worship, and the Joy of Brahman.

What are the characteristics of joy? ›

What emerge are commonly felt qualities of joy, five of which I will share with you now.
  • Joy is Constant. When people tune in to the feeling of joy, what often emerges is an awareness that this joy is somehow always with us. ...
  • Joy Inspires Creativity. ...
  • Joy is Often Unreasonable. ...
  • Joy is Untroubled. ...
  • Joy is Enough.
May 13, 2015

How do you find joy in the Bible? ›

7 Biblical Ways to Choose Joy Today No Matter What
  1. Focus on the Good. In every day, there is good to be found, even if that good is simply the fact you woke up today, or you have something to eat. ...
  2. Remembering Past Victories. ...
  3. The Lord is my Strength. ...
  4. Worship. ...
  5. Focus on God. ...
  6. Joy in Creation. ...
  7. Finding Joy in Christ Alone.
Sep 3, 2020

How can I be full of joy? ›

How to find joy
  1. Let go of the past. ...
  2. Practice gratitude. ...
  3. Use the law of attraction. ...
  4. Surround yourself with positive people. ...
  5. Change your physiology. ...
  6. Create positive daily rituals. ...
  7. Be fully present. ...
  8. Find your purpose.

What are the two types of joy? ›

Psychologists conceive of happiness in two different ways: hedonic happiness, or pleasure and enjoyment, and eudaimonic happiness, or meaning and purpose. Some psychologists champion either a hedonic or an eudaimonic idea of happiness. Most agree, however, that people require both hedonia and eudaimonia to flourish.

What are five things that bring you joy? ›

50 Things That Bring Me Joy
  • Drinking a hot cup of coffee.
  • Writing in my journal.
  • Watching a movie.
  • Going for brunch.
  • Entertaining at home.
  • Going out for lunch.
  • Happy hour.
  • Creating new cocktails.
Mar 19, 2022

What are five simple things that bring you joy? ›

Survey: Simple things make us happiest
  • Sleeping in a freshly-made bed.
  • Feeling the sun on your face.
  • People saying "thank you" or a random act of kindness from a stranger.
  • Finding money in unexpected places.
  • Having time to myself.
  • Laughing so hard it hurts. ...
  • Snuggling on the sofa with a loved one.
  • Freshly-made bread.

What is joy in our life? ›

It's the kind of life that produces positive vibes and feel-good energy, and encourages us to look to the future with high hopes. Pure joy might seem like a fleeting emotion, but even if you only feel it for a moment in time, you can hold onto it. You can relish in it.

How do you seek your joy in God? ›

Here's how to gain the Joy of The Lord:
  1. Joy Comes Through Faith In Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. ...
  2. Joy Comes Through Obedience To Christ. ...
  3. Joy Comes Through Forgiveness and Repentance. ...
  4. Joy Comes Through Praying for Others. ...
  5. Joy Comes Through Fellowship With Believers. ...
  6. Joy Comes Through Service In His Kingdom.

What is the power of joy? ›

The Power of Joy is the roadmap for action takers who want real change. It combines powerful tools and practical guidance that guarantees big transformation, inside and out.

What is an example of joy in the Bible? ›

16. Luke 15:6-7. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. ' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

How did Jesus bring joy? ›

The greatest joy of Jesus' ministry was even more profound than healing someone or even bringing back someone from the dead. The greatest joy that Jesus brought was when he saved people from their sin! This took time for people to realize because many people struggled to accept that he was the Son of God.

What words describe joy? ›

Synonyms of joy
  • happiness.
  • blissfulness.
  • bliss.
  • joyfulness.
  • enjoyment.
  • gladness.
  • pleasure.
  • delight.

Who showed joy in the Bible? ›

David dances before the Lord.

But David also danced. He danced jubilantly to celebrate the ark, which signified God's presence. His wife, Michal, criticized him for his display of joy, but David told her that his dancing was to honor the Lord. Read the whole story in 2 Samuel 6.

What brings real joy? ›

Family – Even if your family situation is not perfect, family can be a source of great and lasting joy. Laugh with your children, love your spouse, and relish in the support of your parents and siblings. 2. Friends – True friends love you just the way you are.

What are the 4 pillars of joy? ›

So the four E's of joy are embrace, enjoy, engage, and ease. And in this episode, I'm going to go through each step and we're going to talk about some tools and practices that you can use to cultivate joy.

Is joy a gift from God? ›

The Scripture teaches that joy is a gift from God and is a strength to those who have it (Neh 8:10).

What is the highest form of joy? ›

For Aristotle, eudaimonia is the highest human good, the only human good that is desirable for its own sake (as an end in itself) rather than for the sake of something else (as a means toward some other end).

What is joy in the presence of God? ›

Joy is one of many things that only come from God. It is the fruit of God's Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23). That means it can only find true expression in those who have received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and have been gifted with His Spirit.

What is the meaning of joy in the Holy Spirit? ›

Joy is a choice. Rick Warren gave us this definition of joy: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”

Why is joy important? ›

Studies show that joyful people have less chance of having a heart attack, maintain healthier blood pressure, and tend to have lower cholesterol levels. There's research to prove that joy boosts our immune systems, fights stress and pain, and improves our chance of living a longer life.


1. What is Joy? #shorts #christianity #joy
(Mecklenburg Community Church)
2. The Joy of Christianity | Sermon by Johnny Ramsey
(World Video Bible School (WVBS))
3. Do You Know How to Find Joy? The Good News of Christianity
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4. Joy and Jeff's Story: Christianity Explored
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5. Finding Joy and Happiness
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6. CeCe Winans - I've Got Joy (Official Lyric Video)
(CeCe Winans)


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