The Serious Business of Joy

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”— John 15:11

“Joy is the serious business of heaven,” wrote C.S. Lewis.
Joy? Serious? Don’t the two concepts contradict each other?

Not at all.

Not when you look at the emphasis God puts on joy being a part of the believer’s life. Much of what God teaches us and does for us is for one purpose: “That your joy may be full.”

Johann von Goethe, writer, philosopher, admitted at the age of seventy-five that he had only known four weeks of happiness. There are many believers, some victims of suffering, who could say the same.

But joy!

In his book Jesus Man of Joy, Sherwood Wirt celebrated joy this way: “Joy is more than…earthly pleasure, more than what we call happiness. Joy is the enjoyment of God and the good things that come from the hand of God… For many, pleasure and happiness are but fleeting experiences. But joy! Now we move into a different dimension…Joy is not happiness, it is the joy of salvation, the exultation of God’s Spirit in men and women, ‘good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.’ Joy becomes the ecstasy of eternity in a soul that has made peace with God.” 1

Joy is not mere happiness.

Joy is often accompanied by a recognition of the lack of joy in the world, and the haunting notion that we are but passing through, pressing toward something greater than ourselves. Joy is what gives us the strength to enjoy life and carry on, even in the midst of hardship.

Jesus didn’t create joy to be half-hearted, partial, or merely wished for.

He went to the cross “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 2:2) so that our joy “may be full.”


  1. Wirt, Sherwood E., “Jesus Man of Joy” (Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991).