“Let us make merry.” The father in response to his prodigal son’s return home uttered those words (Lk. 15:23). The lost being found and the dead coming to life should cause great rejoicing. Soul winners especially possess these purest of joys.
As the world grows darker I am constantly reminded these days to rejoice in that which eternal – to rejoice that my name is written in heaven (Lk. 10:20).
As evil, destruction, and death compass us about in this fallen world I am admonished by the Word to look within, wherein we have a building from God not made with hands, that is not subject to death and can never be destroyed. I’m sure it is this holy thought that has sustained many a Christian martyr throughout the ages.
This is where the true Christian joy originates. It is what produces a merry heart that outshines in a cheerful disposition.
“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance” (Pr. 15:13).
A happy face is a winsome thing, isn’t it? Beauty may be pleasant to the eyes, but cheerfulness is better to live with. I should know. I have the most cheerful wife on earth.
Those of us who could never win a prize at a beauty contest, may all have a “cheerful countenance” that provides a sparkling light in the eye, and readiness to smile about the lips, that brightens the dullest corner of any room, and enlivens the most uninteresting occupation.
Cheerfulness is indeed true beauty. A merry heart makes it so. It begins inwardly. The world puts it on but we have it in us – the joy of the Lord! A joyful countenance is a constant, unspoken, testimony to the saving and satisfying power of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have it!
All real enjoyment of life comes from a condition of heart. A merry heart finds a feast in all sorts of unlikely places, and extracts the very best out of life at every turn while the miserable heart fails to even get an ounce of joy out of a ton of luxury.
“He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast” (Pr. 15:15).
Pentecost is a continual feast. Is it any wonder that the Spirit fell on one of the Jewish feast days and intoxicated the 120 who were waiting?
The Comforter has come to abide, and has brought with Him the secret of a sanctified “merry heart” for ever. Our finest feasting here on earth is only an earnest, a foretaste, of the feasting that awaits us yonder, where hearts are made merry by the redeeming love of our Savior and shall sing eternally in the halls of Zion.
As we ponder and meditate on this eternal bliss even the hard times lose a bit of their earthly sting and stir our hearts to never cease rejoicing.
Under a lesser covenant Habakkuk visualized circumstances about as bad as they could be:
“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation“ (Hab. 3:17-18).
Paul and Silas found something to feast about in prison even with their backs bleeding through undeserved beatings (Acts 16:25).
A simple unwavering faith in the promises of God will ignite your joy.
“Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
And finally, a merry heart is a tremendous aid to health of mind and body.
“A merry heart does good, like medicine” (Pr. 17:22a).
The condition of the heart does affect our mind and body. It is one of heaven’s most sensible prescriptions for sickness. The opposite is true also. A broken spirit dries the bones (22b). Bitterness, sorrow, criticism, skepticism, regret, disappointment, worry, fear, and doubt all work together in creating a dryness that affects our health.
The forgiveness of sins brings release from a broken spirit – receiving God’s forgiveness and forgiving others. It is again the reason the father called for great rejoicing at the return of his prodigal son.
“And they began to be merry” (Lk. 15:24). They began. They began. Therein is a sweet suggestion of eternity.
This holy merriment will never end.