Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Happy Christian

I once heard a preacher discussing the issue of biblical joy vs. happiness. I believe his contention was that we should seek the "joy of the Lord" for the Bible does not teach us to be "happy." Perhaps I misunderstood the thrust of the message, for, although it is true that "joy" is referenced much more frequently than is the concept of "happiness," the word "happy" does occur several times in the Bible,*much more often in the Old Testament than in the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, we find
Happy is
he who hears wisdom
he who God corrects
he who eats the labour of his own hands
he whose God is the Lord
he who lays hold upon wisdom and keeps her
he who has mercy on the poor
he who trusts in the Lord
he who keeps the law.

In the New Testament, we find
Happy is
he who does these things Jesus has taught
he who endures
he who suffers for righteousness sake
he who is reproached for the name of Christ
I would not presume to develop a sermon from this, as I am not now nor have I ever been a preacher. It does seem to me that in the Old Testament we find specific prescriptions for behaviors that lead to happiness. In the New Testament it appears that we are taught that to follow Christ and keep His commandments will make us happy, even though we will suffer reproach for His name's sake; and we may be scorned for righteousness. How then, to be happy? Endure.
An enigma? Perhaps, but how about this for a puzzle?
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. -1John:3:16
And yet it is so.
Personal conviction: Happiness is a state mind; joy is in the heart.
"The joy of the LORD is my strength!"
*Reading from the King James Version.
7:21 P.M. EDT = Vernal equinox. May you have a beautiful Spring! (Or Autumn if you are south of the equator.)


Anonymous said...

I can totally support your personal conviction.

Sharkbytes said...

I just know that I'm UNhappy if I do the opposites of those things.

vanilla said...

Grace, I appreciate that. The corollary to "happiness is a state of mind" I think is "happiness is a choice."

Shark, it seems to work that way!