In responding to one of the comments I had received to an earlier posting I promised that I would write a post about Joy and the different kinds of joy.
As a Christian I believe that there are in the main three kinds of Joy…
Emotional Joy ——- Biblical Joy —— Spiritual Joy.
And I list them in this way because in my understanding “Biblical Joy” – the joy mentioned in the bible covers both “Emotional joy” and “Spiritual Joy”
So having said this let’s take a look at each of these in turn and start with “Emotional Joy”
Emotional Joy is quite simply exactly what the name suggests – Joy that belongs to or is resultant from emotions.
Merriam –Webster Online Dictionary defines joy as being
a : the emotion evoked by well-being,
1. success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2. a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
When it comes to “emotion” David G Myers ((2004) “Theories of Emotion.” Psychology: Seventh Edition, New York, NY: Worth Publishers, p. 500) defines it as a complex “Psychophysiological” experience of an individual’s state of mind as interacting with biochemical (internal) and environmental (external) influences.
Personally I have little to know problem with either of those definitions but would have to say that I believe those environment experiences can be either actual or perceived environmental influences.
So taking these two definitions as being correct we can ascertain that “emotional joy “ is a psychophysiologically experienced state of happiness influenced by or resultant from biochemical and actual or perceived environmental influences.
With me so far? Good but let’s boil it down to its base elements.
“Emotional Joy” is a happy state of mind resultant from or influenced by biochemical and/or environmental influences whether actual or perceived.
So what about Spiritual Joy?
Just as “Emotional joy” is quite simply exactly what the name suggests – Joy that belongs to or is resultant from emotions, “Spiritual Joy” is quite simply joy that belongs to or is resultant from the Spirit.
Take a look at Galatians 5:22 if you will, “ 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” [Galatians 5:22-23 NIV]
As Christians we believe that on giving our lives to Christ we are given access to the gift of the Holy Spirit.
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. [John 14:26 NIV]
So if Spiritual Joy is a joy that is belonging to or resultant from the Holy Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23] and if we as Christians are promised the Holy Spirit [John 14:26] then we as Christian have access to Spiritual Joy.
Let’s pause for a moment and consider the distinctions and differences between those two types of joy.
Emotional Joy – belonging to and resultant from the psychophysiological. Influenced by biochemical and actual or perceived environmental influences – fleeting, temporary, erratic, flawed, imperfect, easily swayed/influenced.
Spiritual Joy – belonging to and resultant from the Holy Spirit. Influenced by God who is eternal, perfect, loving, faithful and true.
I certainly know which of those two I would rather have!
So why is it that as Christians we often fail to experience Spiritual Joy?
Well, I believe the answer is very simple and is all to do with our natures. What we do know is that we as human beings are raised in such a way that we are taught to rely on ourselves. Either on our parents – when we are young, or on our own strengths and abilities when we get older.
Additionally so very much of what we learn is about “self” – self reliance, self-preservation, self-confidence, self-awareness.
Spiritual Joy, however (as we have already discovered) is not about self it is about Spirit! And Spirit is supernatural not natural. It is therefore alien to our “natural” way of thinking and our “natural” experiences.
Additionally unlike Emotional Joy which is resultant from and directly or indirectly influenced by self (our biochemistry) and environment (actual or perceived) external factors. Spiritual Joy remains true and in fact influences and impacts both self and environmental factors.
So as Christians we are faced with a choice. Do we look for and judge things in accordance with Emotional Joy or do we connect to and judge things according to the Spiritual Joy that we have already established is readily available to us.
And this is perhaps a good place to bring in our final category. That of Biblical Joy – the joy that I mentioned previously does cover both emotional and spiritual joy.
If we take a slightly detailed look at joy in the New Testament we can see several different types of joy mentioned…
χαρά charo joy, – gladness, cheerfulness, calm delight
εὐφροσύνη euphrosune good cheer
ἀγαλλίασις agalliasis exultation – welcome with extreme joy, gladness
ἀγαλλιάω agalliao exult, welcome with extreme joy
σκιρτάω skirtaō to leap (as in the womb)
καυχάομαι kauchaomai to glory in, be happy about an achievement.
ὀνίνημι oninēmi to derive pleasure from.
Of these, the type most frequently referred to is that of Charo – calm delight. Out of over 60 references made to the word “joy” in the New Testament, Charo is used in over 50 of them.
It is, incidentally, also the type referred to in our previously mentioned verse Galatians 5:22-23 – the inclusion of joy as a Fruit of the Spirit.
So as we can see it is very important to us as Christians and in concluding this post I want us to look at the last definition given of Charo above – that of “calm delight.”
So far we have established that Spiritual Joy belongs to and is resultant from the Spirit. The Spirit which is part of the Godhead – the triune God and thus which is and whose joy is eternal, perfect, loving, faithful and true.
As Christians we have accepted Christ into our lives and as a direct result of this we have gained access to Salvation, God and Eternal Life with God. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6 NIV]
No matter what is happening within us, not matter what is happening around us short of our doing something eternally stupid, our place in Christ, God and Eternity is assured and this in itself is and should be a huge source of confidence and contentment.
So no matter what we face in our lives in this earth, – in this world if you like, we can rest assured of that promise and can secure from it that “calm delight” that is promised.
So only one question remains therefore. When we face trials, when we face difficulties, when we look around and all we see is the wind and the waves coming against us do we judge our standing and our future on these or on the promises of God?
Do we struggle according to our emotions, influenced by unsafe and un-trustworthy “selfs” our biochemistry and our unpredictable environmental influences? Or do we reach out for and trust in that calm delight freely available, certain and sure, and which instead has the power to impact both our “selfs” and our “environments”?