Can Non-Christians Have Joy?

In 1971, the group Three Dog Night released a song that was the #1 song on the charts for 6 weeks in a row.  Here are some of the words to the song:

Jeremiah was a bull frog; was a good friend of mine.  I never understood a single word he said, but I helped him drink his wine.   And he always had some mighty fine wine.  Joy to the world; all the boys and girls, now.  Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea; joy to you and me.

It seems to me that this song contains a very misguided view of true joy and where it originates.  In the New Testament, the word “joy” is the word χαρά [khar•ah].  Throughout the Bible, joy is almost always associated with salvation. 

In Luke 2:10, the angel told the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy….”  What was that great joy?  “Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”  (Luke 2:11, NASB).  David linked joy and salvation when he prayed, “Restore to me the joy of my salvation” (Psalm 51:12, NASB).

I contend that only Christians can experience Biblical joy because only Christians have experienced salvation.  Non-Christians can certainly experience happiness in life, but happiness can come and go.  Joy is constant — it does not depend on circumstances.  I like to say it this way:

Happiness depends on happenings; Joy depends on Jesus!

If we’re going to choose a song about joy, I think the Isaac Watts version of “Joy to the World” is much better than the Three Dog Night version.  Here are the words:

 Joy to the world,  the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King.  Let every heart prepare Him room.  And heav’n and nature sing.  And heav’n and nature sing.  And heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing. 

What do you think?  Can non-Christians have joy in their lives?

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  1. Sure they can. Non-Christians who have children I’m sure experience immense joy, just as Christians do. When they work hard and accomplish their goals, I’m sure they experience joy.

    I think about who the angels were speaking to. The shepherds had not experienced joy only through Christ, yet the angels used the word “joy” to explain Him. Surely these shepherds had experienced some sort of “joy” before, or they wouldn’t have been so excited about the “great joy” that the angels were talking about. They must’ve had some point of reference.

    But what we Christians know that non-Christians do not is that even when things are dark and there seems to be no hope, that there is a peace and even a “joy” we can have because we are in Christ Jesus and He IS hope and life. It really is unexplainable.

    I believe that’s the difference. I believe they can have joy, but only a joy that makes sense. The question is, can they have that “joy” that’s “unspeakable?” When everything’s falling apart around them, can they look to the Heavens and say, “I know from where my help comes?” No they can’t. Having joy then would seem to be audacious! However, Christians have a “hope and a future” in Christ, so we can retain our “joy unspeakable” even when it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever! Make sense? lol

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