Joy in the Old Testament is often linked to being in God’s presence. It is also connected to a recognition of God’s blessings, expressing gratitude to God for what he has given us.
For seven days you shall celebrate this feast for the Lord, your God, in the place which the Lord will choose; since the Lord, your God, has blessed you in all your crops and in all your undertakings, you will be full of joy. (Deuteronomy 16:15)
In the New Testament, Jesus also speaks about joy and his desire to give us joy. This reminds us that joy is a gift, something that is not necessarily acquired, but received from God.
Jesus teaches his disciples the secret to joy, though his words are not easy to accept.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9-11)
This means that joy is inextricably linked to keeping God’s commandments. Following a list of rules may not be the first thing we would think of to live a joyful life, but God repeatedly goes back to his commandments as the path to joy.
The key to joy lies in seeing the 10 Commandments as something that will set us free, instead of laws that bind us.
It is possible to increase joy in our lives, but we can’t pursue joy according to our own personal wants or desires. We have already tried that and failed. Let’s turn to God, the author of joy, and follow the path that he has laid out for us.
Originally published by Aleteia, republished with their permission.