Joy is not happiness. I have heard this statement – or ones just like it – more times than I can count. I have heard entire sermons preached around this statement. Joy is much more internal and not dependent upon circumstances or situation; while, happiness is an emotion that is a result of something outside of yourself – and is much more fleeting, or short-lived, than joy. I understand and appreciate these explanations and ideas, but it sometimes seems that happiness is not for believers. Somehow, if we have joy and the contentment it offers, then we have enough.
But, Christians should be happy people. Happiness is simply the state of being happy. No doubt, there is much that affects our happiness; however, in general, I do not think it is a stretch to not only expect Christians to be happy people but also to expect to be happy myself. I sincerely want the fruits of the spirit to mature and be evident in my life. To bloom:) And, of course, this includes joy. I have often asked the Lord to increase my joy. If those prayers are answered and my joy is ever increasing, it seems only natural that I would be more often happy. Happiness comes from the joy I have within!!
Yes, just like joy, happiness is for believers. But, can we increase our happiness? Better yet, are there ways that we are sabotaging our happiness? I think so. It is a worthwhile exercise to ask the Lord to reveal habits, ideas or attitudes that are stealing not only your joy but your happiness. Here are two happiness defeaters I think affect many of us.
The wrong friends. It has been true since we were on the elementary school playground. We are defined by the company we keep. If we want to be wise, walk with the wise. If we hang with the angry, negative or defeated…we can expect to be the same. Choosing good friends and the right company is essential. As older women (no longer on the playground) it is even easier to not only seek out but to find those who will agree with and validate our negative opinions and attitudes. (We can become quite skilled at making our gunk sound appropriate – even holy.) How much better to surround ourselves with those who will recognize our error, who will lovingly rebuke us when necessary and who sincerely want our walk with the Lord to be sweet. That is a true friend!
I once saw a quote regarding the source of true happiness. It included, “….from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions.” How true! Read friends are treasured gifts!
A critical spirit. Ouch. The Lord has been showing me often lately how hurtful this can be – even more so to my own heart than the ones of whom I am critical. If we are critical by nature, or we have been just been critical for so long, it can often be hard to even recognize this sin. And to see how damaging it is. A critical spirit is not only negative but vengeful and hateful – often feeling superior, or holy, for even having the attitude of hate. A woman with a critical spirit usually has strong prejudices or other (self-imposed) standards by which she evaluates others. She also tends to be selfish, jealous and self-righteous…even finding satisfaction when others suffer, have trouble, or fall into sin.
Whether you are hyper-critical or, perhaps, just a chronic complainer, these attitudes tend to destroy our own happiness and leave us irritable, dissatisfied and miserable. No matter how justified our faultfinding might seem, it never really delivers the satisfaction we think it will. We need to regularly ask the Lord to expose any type of justified wrong thinking we might have. Ask for humility. For grace. Ask Him for the ability and the desire to rejoice in truth, not in sin, and to be gentle. Forbearing. It will dramatically impact our own happiness.
Next Tuesday, I plan to have two more ways to increase our happiness. Two simple, but effective, ways. I hope you will come back…and visit the blog again. Here’s to a week filled with much happiness!!