Thursday, December 07, 2006

Should Christians be Happy?

Christians say they have joy in their lives. Yet, they often differentiate happiness from joy. They define joy as a peaceful resolve that God is in control of all things. So, does this mean that when we become followers of Jesus we should say goodbye to our desire to be happy? Psalm 37 has an answer to this question.

Psalm 37:4 tells us to delight in God and He will give us the desires of our heart. Let’s think through this for a moment. I think delight means delight. It is not happiness-less-joy. Delighting in something is filled with happiness. Now, I know there are times when our joy does not overflow with the emotion of happiness. Yet, I believe that even in the hardest moments of life there will still be something that brings us happiness when the time is right. For example, when I preach a funeral, I always try to stir up the listeners to think of some experience in the life of the person that has died that brings a happy memory. I find people are extremely comforted when they find out they can actually smile at one of the most difficult times in their life.
The psalmist is directing us to realize where our happiness is to find its resting place. It is to rest in God. Where are some other places our happiness might rest? People, places, possessions, prestige, accomplishments (sorry I ran out of “P” words)…get the picture? There are times in all of our lives when we mistake a means for glorifying God as the end that brings us happiness. We must be careful that even things that are “spiritual” do not become idols. Let me give you an example.

When I preach a sermon or go to sing a song, there is real heart work that must be done. I need to clarify my motives as to why I am making this public presentation. If I am doing this with a desire for people to compliment me…and that will be the greatest source of my joy…then I am doing it for the wrong reasons. My ultimate motivation must be that I delight in God and I believe that others will find their greatest happiness in Him so my real desire is to point others to Him through preaching or singing.

Think through some “spiritual” things you do. Are you doing these things with the desire to find your delight in God or are you doing these things so that your delight can come from others taking notice of what you are doing?

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