The Difference Between Joy and Happiness | Gig Harbor | Chapel Hill Online

The Difference Between Joy and Happiness | Gig Harbor | Chapel Hill Online

How are some people happy when life is hard? What IS the secret to being happy no matter what? It turns out that it’s joy that is much deeper than happiness. Join Pastor Mark as he explores the difference between happiness and joy, and how YOU can be joyful too!

Thinking Further:
-Read Philippians 1:1-4. How has “joy no matter what” been a theme of this past year as believers? What are a few things you are especially thankful for right now?
-Use a study Bible to learn about the theme of joy in the book of Philippians. If you don’t have one, use this link to access a summary page from the ESV Study Bible. What places do you see joy in today’s passage?
-Take some time to memorize Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”. If you have kids, get them involved too!

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Recently, we were on a leadership retreat, enjoying a meal together, when this guy showed up at our door. He seemed so friendly and fun-loving that we just wanted to open the door and give him a BIG hug. But when we DID get closer to the door, he got grouchy. See the hair on his back? It was a pretty quick transition from “Oh, isn’t he cute” bear to “Don’t mess with me” bear.

Some of the Apostle Paul’s letters were definitely written by “Grouchy- don’t mess with me” Paul. Like the letter to the Galatians. Right out of the chute, he chews them out because they’ve been suckered into believing false teaching.

But when you open the letter to the Philippians, you meet Cuddly Bear Paul. From the start of this little book, there is a sweetness to it. I call Chapel Hill “My Sweetheart Church.” Well…the Philippians were PAUL’S Sweetheart church and that becomes clear in the first few verses of his letter. This is one of my favorite books in the Bible and a perfect place to pause as we begin to move out of the darkness of COVID and into the light of God’s glorious future for us.

​Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy…

I know…we ended that passage mid-sentence, right? But for this introduction to Paul’s letter to his Sweetheart Church, I want to end on the word that sums up the letter …and sums up the attitude of our heart that can help us live victoriously, no MATTER our circumstances. Did you see the word? What? JOY! Say it. “Joy.” Such a powerful little word! JOY!

Joy is the dominant theme in this letter. It appears 16 times in just 3 pages. More than any other book in the New Testament. Like this: “Rejoice in the Lord, always. Again I will say, rejoice!” This is my go-to memory verse when I’m stressed out. Phil 4: 4-9. In fact, I challenge you to memorize those verses over the next few weeks. It is one of the most encouraging, uplifting, soul-soaring passages of scripture you can tuck away into your soul. During hard, anxious times I will repeat this verse out loud over and over! “Rejoice in the Lord, always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Joy and re-joy again, says Paul. This verse is a salve for your soul. This BOOK is a powerful salve for your soul!

John Piper calls Philippians the “happiest book in the Bible.” Although I understand why he calls it that…I think we need to start by saying clearly: Joy and happiness are NOT the same thing. Happiness is a circumstantial, temporary emotion. When things are going well, when relationships are good, when health and finances and future look bright… we’re happy. And happiness is a wonderful thing. Don’t worry. Be happy. Not a great song…but a great sentiment. BUT HAPPINESS IS NOT THE BEST THING.

Joy…real joy…is the best thing. Joy is NOT an emotion, it is NOT circumstantial and it need not be fleeting. JOY is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy is grounded, not just in OUR wellbeing, but in the wellbeing of those around us. Joy is LESS self-focused than happiness. And less mercurial…less up and down. It is stable. Enduring. Resilient. I would define joy as “inextinguishable delight and contentment.” It is a bright, calm, buoyant, hope-filled attitude toward life that can never be quenched…because it derives from the joy-producing Spirit of Jesus who lives within us.

I want to preach this book because we need more joy! We’ve had enough gloom, enough bad news, enough fear, enough sorrow. We need joy. More joy! We need to be a place where people walk in on a Sunday morning and experience the power of what Nehemiah once said, “The joy of the Lord is my strength!” … To read more, visit