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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

II Corinthians 8:2, "How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality."

John 13:17, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."

This morning, many today are wandering about in confusion based on an improper understanding of terminology. For one to have an accurate assessment of grace, as taught in Holy Writ, the definition of "free, unmerited favour" must be kept firmly in view. For one to have a proper viewpoint on fundamentals of legal matters, they must understand the terminology of things like adverse possession, jurisprudence, and legal precedence (just to name a few). Without an understanding of basic definitions, we cannot hope to function in any advanced way in the realm that we are pursuing. Therefore, in our Godly pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of God's written word, we must be acquainted with the definitions of words, and in conjunction with that, we need to be aware of the "original" definition of the word to understand the author's intent for writing what he did. Let us examine this morning two words, commonly misunderstood or interchanged, to learn what the Scriptures mean when employing either of these terms.

The two terms under consideration from the verses above are: joy and happy. What is the difference between the two? Firstly, the idea of joy stems from a state of gladness that is exclusive from circumstance and environment. Happiness is an emotional state of pleasantness that stems directly from circumstances and environment. For example, if someone received a million dollars, their circumstance would induce the emotional state of happiness from the pleasant natural circumstance. However, the joy or gladness may or may not be present during this situation depending on the state of the individual at the time. For example, did they want more? Did they expect more? Was the windfall received with gladness or perceived as being owed them? The answers to these questions will show whether or not joy was present during such a time. One of the things to keep in distinct view is that joy and happiness do intersect at times but not always.

Looking at Paul's declaration above, notice where joy is located in the verse and overall thought that is brought forth. These dear saints have joy in the midst of trials and tribulations. In their great afflictions and distresses, joy is still present and manifest in their lives. What we see from the passage above is the presence of joy regardless of circumstance. We should mention here that a very pertinent point to be made is that natural (unregenerate) man does not have joy in the slightest. Joy is no different in this sense than love, peace, longsuffering, or any other fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Without the Spirit of Almighty God, we cannot have joy or any other part of this fruit. But, those hearts whom God hath tendered by His efficacious touch have the joy deep within their souls that should be brought to light and manifest in all aspects, whether situations in life are pleasant or not.

Consider the funeral service of a loved one passed on. What is pleasant about this circumstance? What about this experience would bring the happy emotional state? There is nothing naturally to be happy about during such a time, but dear friends the joy of the soul can rejoice with love and full of glory when considering the bondage of toil and tribulation is over for their loved one. The weary soul is at rest in the arms of the Saviour in glory! Surely, that thought can sustain us here in our every distress that whatever our course or circumstance, so shall we one day rest in the arms of His love. That fruit of the Spirit being manifest in our actions shows the walk of faith according to things unseen as yet that will be revealed some sweet day.

Moving into the realm of happiness, we find that happiness is something that all men (without exception) can exhibit if the circumstance is right. Again, a natural man will be pleased when things go his way, and he is living "high on the hog." Even God's dear children can have happiness in spiritual things when the situation is pleasant and sweet. The verse above from John shows that our situation can be happy when we actively engage in the foot-washing service. During this scene, we experience the deep sense of love and service that our Lord showed forth when He walked this low ground of sin and sorrow. Now, can we have the happiness borne forth during that service when not engaged in it? Can we be as happy about a church service when not being there? One of the things that always disappoints me is when I listen to a tape or CD from a service that I was engaged in and think, "That is nothing like what we experienced!"

Since the Spirit does not transfer to the CD, we cannot find the deep well of happiness that we experienced while in the service. Truly, there is a blessing in the CDs in being able to re-listen to the points made in the preaching, but the happiness of the time is absented from us. The happiness surrounds the situation of the preaching, foot-washing, singing, and fellowship of the saints. We cannot be nearly as happy about the presence of the brethren when we are not in their presence. Therefore, even happiness of a spiritual nature is dependent upon our circumstance.

As mentioned above, happiness and joy can coincide with each other. While our joy should be full and openly manifest during all seasons, we should definitely be both joyous and happy during the seasons of fellowship in God's house. When the happiness abounds during the heralding of the gospel or the humbling experience of washing the saint's feet, the joy should be ever-felt and near unto our hearts and minds. But, even when happy seasons are not upon us, such as tribulations and distress, may we be renewed in our joy of the Lord that has providentially blessed us down through our lives to continue His blessings upon us.

So, when someone confuses joy and happiness, may we encourage one another in the joy of the Lord no matter the circumstance and be happy in the Lord during the pleasant seasons of our lives. In so doing, we will not confuse emotional pleasantness with the fruit of the Spirit. Also, we will not quench the Spirit when engaged during happy times. It is interesting to see those in happy seasons be full of doom and gloom like they are at a funeral service, but it is also interesting to see those at mournful times exhibit "forced" happiness in the name of joy. May the God of all wisdom give us the guidance to understand the proper time and season for each and sometimes both.

In Hope,

Bro Philip