vs. Self-Pity
Joyfulness is the bright spirit and radiant countenance that come by being in full fellowship with the Lord.

Key Verse

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
Psalm 16:11

The operational definition of joyfulness is “delighting in fellowship with the Lord regardless of my circumstances.” When you delight in someone, you admire and appreciate him and enjoy being with that person. The same is true about your relationship with God. Delighting in fellowship with Him produces a deep, consistent assurance that sustains a Christian through any situation. When you talk with the Lord, read His Word, and act on what He says, your heart will be encouraged. As you rest in the Lord and receive strength from Him, joy and peace will spring from fellowship with God. While happiness may look like joy, it disappears when life does not go well. A happy person’s emotional outlook fluctuates, depending upon what is happening, while the joyful person radiates hope and cheer despite changing circumstances. His attitude often refreshes and encourages those around him.

Like crocuses bursting forth through the snow, joyfulness springs from fellowship with God, regardless of our circumstances.
Self-pity is similar to being engulfed in a fog, unable to see beyond one’s own needs and immediate circumstances.

The opposite of joyfulness is self-pity. A person who focuses on his own problems and concerns often becomes irritable or gloomy. A self-pitying person feels sorry for himself. He may pout, saying, “Everybody is mean to me,” “I never get to do anything fun,” or “Nobody likes me.” Instead of drawing attention to the Lord, he selfishly draws attention to himself and his problems. When he pridefully seeks his own happiness above all else, he is easily disappointed when his expectations are not met. By focusing on his difficulties, he rejects the opportunity to fellowship with the Lord. Furthermore, self-pity tends to blind a person from seeing others’ needs and loving them. The Apostle Paul did not indulge in self-pity! He willingly gave up personal comforts and desires for God’s priorities and purposes. (See Acts 20:24.)

Evaluation Questions

  • When people look at me, do they see a bright, smiling countenance?
  • Does my attitude communicate to others that I am glad to be with them?
  • Are my times of fellowship with God fervent and meaningful?
  • Do I turn to God regularly for encouragement, or do I rely on encouragement from others instead?
  • Am I thankful in difficult circumstances and looking for possible benefits?
  • Do I waver between happiness and sadness, or do I maintain a constant, inner joy?
  • Even in times of sorrow, do I claim the promise that joy will return in due time?
  • Do I share with others how I see God working good in seemingly bad situations?
  • In what ways am I finding joy in serving others?

More About Joyfulness

“Joy is not luxury or a mere accessory in the Christian life. It is the sign that we are really living in God’s wonderful love, and that love satisfies us."
Andrew Murray
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Joyfulness with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:


Look for good in all things.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Smile at adversity.

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” I Peter 4:14

Resist discouragement.

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:11–12

Look up.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:17–18

Stand on the promises.

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” II Peter 1:4

Let His Spirit rule my emotions.

“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” I John 4:17–18

Remember that joy will return after times of sorrow.

“And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” John 16:22

Fellowship with Him.

“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:13

Find joy in serving others.

“Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.” I Corinthians 16:14–16

Walk in the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith . . . . If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22, 25

Joyfulness in Scripture

Singing While Shackled

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”
Acts 16:11–40
During Paul’s second missionary journey, the Holy Spirit directed him to go to the city of Philippi. On the Sabbath, Paul and his coworker, Silas, sat by a riverside and spoke with the people gathered for prayer. One person present was Lydia, who was converted and baptized that day! Later, on their way to prayer, Paul and Silas were met by a demon-possessed girl who told fortunes to earn money for her masters. The girl began following Paul and Silas around the city, crying out, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, which show unto us the way of salvation.” For many days, she followed them until Paul, in the name of Jesus, commanded the demon to come out of her. Immediately, she was released from the evil power. When the girl’s masters saw that they would no longer profit from her fortune-telling, they were furious! Seizing Paul and Silas, they took them before the city rulers and accused them of causing trouble. The Philippians responded in an outrage. What punishment would the Philippians inflict upon these two men? How would Paul and Silas respond to the harsh treatment? Would they complain, or would they praise God and look for the good in a seemingly bad situation?

Revealed in Nature

River Otter

The river otter makes even mundane chores a delight. Everything from conquering the fear of water to opening difficult mussel shells is turned into a playful pursuit. In the winter, river otters often enjoy transforming snowbanks into toboggan runs.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. In this study, children are taught how to overcome discouragement by rejoicing in Who God is. As children seek, trust, and obey the Lord, they will find Him to be the Source of deep, inner joy.

View the Joyfulness booklet sample:

Get the complete Joyfulness booklet with all four lessons & activities:

Free Resources for Joyfulness

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
“Where the soul is full of peace and joy, outward surroundings and circumstances are of comparatively little account.”
Hannah Whitall Smith