Are You Happy?

Are You Happy?

Are You Happy?

Richard Hollerman

Happiness is a word that many people use but few people really know. The term is seldom used in the Bible (at least in the New American Standard Bible) but it is often used in our daily conversation.

The word happy may be defined as “characterized by good luck; fortunate” (The American Heritage College Dictionary). This is of no interest to the Christian who doesn’t believe in good luck or fortune. The term also means, “enjoying, showing, or marked by pleasure, satisfaction, or joy” (Ibid.). This definition does arrive at a meaning that resonates with the Christian since he does “enjoy” life, expresses “pleasure” in life, has “satisfaction” in many things, and manifests “joy” in many ways. In this sense, the child of God may be happy!

When we look at the English words, “happier,” “happiness,” and “happy,” we can learn something. For instance, the one who “shall eat of the fruit of [his] hands,” “will be happy and it will be well with” him (Psalm 128:2). In Proverbs 3:18, “happy are all who hold” wisdom fast. We also read, “Happy is he who is gracious to the poor” (14:21). Further, “happy is he who keeps the law” (29:18). Even Solomon, after he had sought happiness in various ways, said, “I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities” (Ecclesiastes 3:22). Even in the New Testament, we read about the widow: “She is happy if she remains as she is” (1 Corinthians 7:40). Happiness does seem to come to us as we find pleasure and satisfaction from various pursuits and activities.

A more important word for us would be “joy” or “rejoice” and the related, “enjoy.” The true and genuine Christian is one who is able to find real joy in life, something that is missing in the life of the unbeliever.  For instance, the believer in Christ who is filled with the Spirit produces “the fruit of the Spirit” that consists of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23a). This shows that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, something that the unbeliever doesn’t have: “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9b). The person indwelt by the Spirit of God will be able to produce a life of joy, along with the other fruit of character and life!

Notice another key passage. Paul writes, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). This shows that God is the One who fills us with joy and peace! It is not something that we manufacture ourselves but it is a gift from God!

Now notice Acts 5:41. The apostles had just been released by the unbelieving Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, as described by Luke the writer: “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” Even in the midst of suffering and shame, these early believers were able to rejoice! Do we do this? Or is our joy eliminated by the presence of personal tragedy and suffering?

What was the character of the early believers? When Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch of Pisidia, we read of their response to the preaching of Paul. We read, “The disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52). These believers not only were filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:38-39 and 5:32), but they were “filled” with joy! Do we have such overflowing joy when we are filled with the Spirit and share Jesus with others? If not, why not?

Joy was a hallmark of the early Christians. Paul said that he offered prayer “with joy” in every prayer he prayed for the Philippians (Philippians 1:4). We read of the early converts experiencing “progress” and “joy” in the faith (1:25). Paul said that his “joy” would be “complete” if these early saints were to manifest a unity in Christ (2:2). The apostle said that these Philippians were his “joy and crown” (4:1). He was so filled with joy that he could write, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (4:4).

We could continue observing many other instances of joy or admonitions for joy, but we have seen enough to teach us that joy was a leading characteristic of these believers in Christ. Again and again, the apostles urged us to rejoice or have joy! This joy could be experienced apart from circumstances.

Are you happy? It may be that you are suffering much pain because of cancer or another life-threatening illness. It may be that you have lost your job, that you have lost your house, or that you have lost your family. Life has become hard and this is not at all what you expected. It is really hard to be “happy” at this time in your life. But continue reading. You will find that regardless of circumstances, you may have true joy!

This true joy comes from various sources. Of course, it comes from God: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13a). It also comes from Jesus Christ who said: “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). And this joy also comes from the Holy Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace….” (Galatians 5:22a; see also Acts 13:52). Thus, this joy comes from outside of ourselves—from God in Christ Jesus through the Spirit!

But this spiritual joy of the heart also comes from knowing that our names are recorded in heaven. It comes from the hope of being with God one day in His eternal kingdom. It also comes from realizing that though all of the things of life may be taken away from us, our relationship with God can’t be taken away. It even comes from a vital fellowship with other believers.  This is the sort of “joy” that the world can’t give or take away. It is a blessing that can’t be bought or stolen.

Do you have this kind of “happiness” that might better be called joy? Allow nothing in life to keep you from this. You will then be able to say that you have a “happiness” that the world can’t give or take away. You will have an inner joy of the spirit that comes through the Holy Spirit. And it will be with you forever!

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