18 March 2011

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Dear Lissy,
Last night Pastor Joe opened his sermon with a question to get us all thinking:  What's the difference between fun and joy?  I've been meditating on the fruit of the Spirit off and on for almost 2 years, and I've always contrasted happiness and joy in my thought processes.  Well, that one question sent my head spinning off in a hundred directions and I'm afraid I didn't listen as well as I should have because I was so excited.  Good thing I always take notes!

From my previous meditations I knew two things about joy:

  1. Obedience = Joy
  2. Joy is an emotion that is exclusive to intimate relationships, usually within our physical or spiritual family.
Pastor Joe pointed out the activities in the Word that bring joy to our lives:  worship, prayer, and  fellowship; as well as the positions: in the Spirit, and in Christ.

As I meditated on these truths and kneaded them into my thought processes, I began to realize that
  • Fun is  physical happiness produced by pleasant circumstances and activities, joy is spiritual happiness produced by the Spirit as I obey the Word.
  • Fun is escaping from, joy is running to
  • Fun is fleeting, joy can be constant
  • Fun depends on my circumstances, joy transcends them
  • Having fun is not necessarily the wrong choice, but maintaining joy is always the right choice
  • Fun usually strengthens my flesh, joy strengthens my soul and spirit
  • Fun should not be the sole motivation for my actions, but joy will always be a powerful incentive for obedience. 
That leaves me with your Dad's favorite question at the end of any sermon or meditation:  
So What????

What does this mean for me as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, or even child/servant/ambassador of God?

Contrasting joy and fun gives me a way to consider both the motivation and results of my actions.

Am I taking the kids to the beach or park to strengthen our relationship and give them a break from the heat, or am I also trying to escape the tedium of undone housework, or whining and fights I should be parenting rather than ignoring?

Do I reject my husband's desire for physical closeness unless he makes the effort to be fun and romantic?

Am I substituting entertaining for hospitality?

Am I overusing the television or computer to free up more personal time for myself instead of training my children's character through interactive, personal play?

Do I chafe when money or time prevents our family from taking a vacation or day trip?

Am I reluctant to get involved in my local church because it doesn't have fun programs available for children, women, dads, etc., or do I treasure the training, fellowship, and growth that comes from a pastor and family of believers who are faithful to the Word and each other?

Do I deceive myself into thinking that sharing a fun activity is the same as faithfully witnessing to a friend or coworker?

Do I avoid spending time with people in my church or community who aren't "fun" to be with because of their age, physical challenges, or personalities?

Do my children have a difficult time completing a task or schoolwork if it's not fun or there isn't a tangible reward promised?

I could keep writing these questions indefinitely, but I think you get the point! 

Pursue joy through an obedient life, and treasure the fun when it accompanies that joy.  

Overflowing joy, deep peace, and abundant grace to you,


  1. Asking "So what?" is SO important and leads us to what really matters.

    "Having fun is not necessarily the wrong choice, but maintaining joy is always the right choice."


  2. So I guess – sounding like an SAT test here – fun is to joy, as romance is to love. Not the same – but related – and once is the far better of the two. And I heart your conclusion born of the “kneading” things through – “Pursue joy through an obedient life, and treasure the fun when it accompanies that joy.”

    God Bless and keep you
    and His face shine upon you…
    and all of yours.

  3. Great analogy, Craig! Thanks ;-)