Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. (Psalm 146:5)
Pastor Randy Alcorn states: The happiest people in the world have a deep, gratitude-drenched relationship with Christ. We don’t pretend all is well. But knowing God’s commands to rejoice in Him through His all-sufficient power, we meditate on His word and ask Him to impart His gladness to us. In time, God exchanges our natural responses with His supernatural, joy-giving presence. Sometimes sorrow and joy do battle; sometimes they coexist, but when our hearts and minds are on Christ, joy is never far away.
But how do we cultivate Christian happiness? Paul Meier M.D. makes the following suggestions which I have adapted and expanded. They are based on his book Happiness Is a Choice: New Ways to Enhance Joy and Meaning in Your Life by Frank Minirth and Paul Meier (2013, first edition 1978). This is not all to be said on this topic and I don’t agree with everything in Minirth and Meier’s book. But these items have been helpful to many people and I add quotations and sample Scriptures. The Lord says: Test everything. Hold on to the good. (1 Thess 5:21)
1. Every day, remember Christ’s loving commitments to you and re-commit your life to loving and following Jesus. Our dedication to the Lord is to be repeated, not just one time. “Whatever the cost in rearrangement, including bravely coming to terms with loved ones, friends, pursuits, and pleasures, turn to the Lord and give yourself afresh to Him.” (William Still)
Mark 12:30— Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Other Scriptures: Matt 6:33-34; Psalm 37:3-4,27; Rom 12:1-2.
2. Meditate on the Scriptures daily, pray over them, and, relying on the Holy Spirit, obey them. “The primary qualification demanded in Bible readers is not scholarship but surrender, not expert knowledge but willingness to be led by the Spirit of God.” (Martin Anstey)
Psa 119:17-18—Be good to your servant while I live, that I may obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Other Scriptures: 2 Tim 3:15-17; Psalm 19:7-14; all of Psalm 119. Pastor Philip Henry (1631–1696) advised his children to use a verse of Psalm 119 every morning for meditation, going over this Psalm twice a year. He promised that this discipline would bring us to love all the Scriptures and Jesus Christ, the Bible’s main character.
3. Get rid of grudges daily and forgive others as freely as you have been forgiven by and in Christ. “I say to God’s glory and in utter humility, that whenever I see myself before Jesus and realize what my blessed Lord has done for me, I am ready to forgive anybody anything.” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
Luke 11:4; Matt 6:14-15—Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us….For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Other Scriptures: Eph 4:26-27,31-32.
4. Re-connect emotionally with your family. If you have no family nearby, connect with your spiritual family with Christ. Let them be your fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters. Christians must love our neighbors, and since families are our nearest neighbors, love them deeply (Martin Luther).
Psalm 128 Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to Him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table….May you live to see your children’s children. Other Scriptures: Eph 5:21-6:4; Psalm 68:4-6; Psalm 127; 1 Peter 3:1-7.
5. Build a support group of friends. “We can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than we can in two years by trying to get people interested in us.” (Dale Carnegie) “Friendship is to me the chief happiness of life.” (C. S. Lewis) “If you want to have friends, you have to be a friend. If you want good friends, be a good friend.” (Warren Wiersbe)
Prov 17:17; 18:24—One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother…. A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Other Scriptures: 2 Cor 7:6-7.
6. Be faithful in the calling, work, and duties the Lord has assigned to you. Create and keep a satisfying daily routine. “Every Christian should pursue excellence of workmanship and service in whatever job you have….Service to God through service to humankind is the highest motivation acceptable to God for diligence and hard work in our vocational calling.” (Jerry Bridges)
Eph 4:28—Work, doing something useful with your hands, that you may have something to share with those in need. Other Scriptures: Prov 6:6-8; 14:23; Ecc 9:10; Eph 6:5-9 (these verses can apply to employers and employees today).
7. Do good to others each day, without looking for praise. “Salvation never results from good deeds; salvation always results in good deeds.” (John Blanchard) “Our good deeds are to be scattered upon all people, Christian and non-Christian.” (Jerry Bridges). “Do good until it is an unconscious habit of life and you do not know you are doing it.” (Oswald Chambers)
Eph 2:10— For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Other Scriptures: Acts 10:38; Matt 5:14-16; Matt 6:3-4; Titus 3:14; Psalm 112:5; Prov 11:25; Luke 14:12-14.
Christians have every right to be the happiest people on earth. We don’t have to look to other sources. We look to God’s word and discover how we can know our faithful Lord and draw from His resources. A. W. Tozer