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How do you define Joy?

Joy. It’s a short but powerful word. Have you thought about a moment of joy in your life? For many, it might be the moment of their marriage or the birth of a child. At the same time, we’ve been taught and intuitively know that joy is more than a moment—it is more than circumstances. Happiness is dictated by circumstance.

Joy is more like a deep abiding.

Webster’s defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” That definition leaves something lacking, however.

Theopedia describes it more convincingly as “a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope.”

Similarly, John Piper writes, “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.” Rick Warren adds his own definition: “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.”

I think these ideas drive us closer to the definition. Joy is a feeling. But it’s also a confident abiding in the vine. It’s knowing that all of our life derives from the vine. But it is also the future expectation that everything is going to be okay as we draw life from the vine—no matter our circumstances.

Joy is the reason why so many have gone to a martyr’s death still confident and assured. Indeed it is why Jesus could go to a cross “for the joy that was set before him.”

All these things make me pause. They make me ask, how am I doing living in the joy, the confident assurance of a present and a future abiding in the vine?

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About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the National Christian Foundation Heartland. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously: www.givingitallawaybook.com. » Learn More

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