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Written by Dynamis Ministries | October 26, 2023

Let’s start with a question…

Is joy an emotion?

This may seem like a basic question to be asking. However, if you place these same words into a Google search, you may be surprised by how many others are asking this same question. Online, leaders across many fields of study including psychology, theology, anthropology and even countless bloggers all weigh in on the topic of joy.

For some, joy is “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” Others suggest joy is more of a virtue than an emotion. Even still, biblical scholars point out that joy is much deeper than mere happiness, as scripture presents joy connected with suffering. From a Christian perspective, joy comes from the faith and hope we have in Jesus and can be defined this way:

Joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, that comes from relationship with God and people.

Regardless of how one may choose to answer this paradoxically simple yet complex question, there is one thing we can all agree on: joy is something we want to experience to a greater degree. Whether it’s joy in times of trial, or more delight in the goodness around us, joy is something everyone welcomes. So, perhaps the better question than “Is joy an emotion?” is “How do I live with more joy?”

On the deepest level, the best way to live with more joy in our lives to enter into a relationship with Jesus. Jesus promises that he will fill us with his joy when we abide in him (John 15:11). Growing in our relationship with Jesus and experiencing this constant source of joy is an ongoing process and can take years to mature. One practical and overlooked move we can make to grow in joy is to be more generous. That’s right, joy and generosity are connected!

Generosity is a byproduct of living with joy. In 2 Corinthians 8:2, Paul praises the work and the generosity of the Macedonians when he says, “They are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.” For the believers in Macedonia their joy led to greater generosity. However, this relationship between joy and generosity works the other way too! From the contributions of modern science there is an ever-growing body of evidence revealing that giving triggers chemicals in our brain that are associated with happiness, pleasure and joy. In other words, the more we give, the more joyful we become.

Whether giving is a byproduct of our joy or joy is a byproduct of our giving, in God’s perfect design he made joy and generosity intricately connected. The truth is, being generous by living a life of giving makes life about as good as it can get. When Jesus said it is more of a blessing to give than receive, he was speaking of a life filled with joy. A life of generosity brings about tremendous joy, perhaps more than anything else we can do. In a world where so many of us are longing for more joy, let’s tap into this together by being more generous. The more we grow in our generosity, the more joy we’ll have that can overflow and spread towards others!