We are all emotional people. Some are more emotional than others, but all of us have been given the privilege of experiencing and expressing emotions and feelings. Just about any circumstance of life can create an emotional response that we express in our feelings. God has given us emotions and feelings because He Himself expresses them.
Read John 15:11
Emotions are conscious mental reactions (such as anger or fear) to something or someone that we experience as strong feelings, directed toward someone or something. Happiness is one of those strong feelings. Christmas is a time we feel and express happiness often as a reaction to celebrating with family and friends, exchanging gifts, and in special worship services. Happiness is that emotion we feel when things around us are going really well.
When you receive a very special Christmas gift from someone, that gift fills you with great happiness. Maybe it is something you have wanted for a long time, or something completely unexpected. The emotion you feel comes from that wonderful gift.
Joy is different. When shopping for that one special gift for a special person in your life and you find it, you are willing to sacrifice, perhaps, by spending more than you had planned. When the gift is opened, you experience great joy in seeing the reaction in the recipient.
The word “gift” in Scripture is bound to verb “to give”. In other words, we experience joy when we give, especially when we give sacrificially. In today’s passage, Jesus tells His disciples (and us) that He wants us to be full of His joy, so full that we are running over with it. He desires us to be filled with His joy! This isHis gift to us. And when we receive it, our joy overflows to such an extent that we give it to others.