Spiritual Joy v Worldly Joy

What’s the difference between Christian joy and the joy of the world? How do I know I have the former and not the latter?

Spiritual joys are inward, they are heart joys. Worldly joy is superficial, lying on the outside, like the dew on a leaf. But spiritual joy lies most within. “Divine joy is like a spring of water which runs underground!”

 

“The gleanings of Christian joy are better than the world’s vintage.” Thomas Watson

What’s the difference between Christian joy and the joy of the world? How do I know I have the former and not the latter? The Puritan Thomas Watson outlined eight important differences summarized below:

1. Spiritual joys help to make us better, worldly joys often make us worse. Christian joy cleanses our hearts, turns us against sin, and infuses strength to do and to suffer.

2. Spiritual joys are inward, they are heart joys. Worldly joy is superficial, lying on the outside, like the dew on a leaf. But spiritual joy lies most within. “Divine joy is like a spring of water which runs underground!”

3. Spiritual joys are sweeter than others, they are better than wine. They are so sweet, that they make everything else sweet and also give us a distaste for earthly delights.

4. Spiritual joys are more pure, they are not tempered with any bitter ingredients. A sinner’s joy is mixed with the dregs of fear and guilt. Spiritual joy is not muddied with guilt, but like a crystal stream, runs pure. It is joy and nothing but joy.

5. They are satisfying joys:  There is as much difference between spiritual joys and earthly, as between a banquet that is eaten and one that is painted on the wall.

6. They are stronger joys than worldly. They are strong enough to bear up a Christian’s heart in the heaviest affliction.

7. They are unwearied joys. Unlike other joys, the joys of God, though they satisfy, yet they never sicken us. A drop of joy is sweet, but the more of this wine the better.

8. They are abiding joys. Worldly joys are soon gone. They seem to be sweet, but they are swift. The joys which believers have are abiding.

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog, Head Heart Hand, and is used with permission.

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