“There is an obligation upon a Christian to be happy. Let me say it again—there is a responsibility laid upon a Christian to be cheerful! It is not merely an invitation, but it is a command—“Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous.” “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice.” Gloomy Christians who do not resist despondency and strive against it, but who go about as if midnight had taken up its abode in their eyes and an everlasting frost had settled on their souls are not obeying the commands of God! The command to rejoice is as undoubted a precept of God as to love the Lord with all your heart. The vows of God are upon you, O Believer, and they bind you to be joyful!
In this joyfulness you shall find many great advantages. First, it is a great advantage, in itself, to be happy. Who would not rejoice if he could? Who would not rejoice when God commands him? Rejoicing will nerve you for life’s duties. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” A man who goes about Christ’s work in an unwilling, miserable spirit will do it badly and feebly. He may do it earnestly, but there will be no life or energy about him. Hear how the sailors, when they pull the rope, will shout and sing and work all the better for their cheery notes! I do not believe our soldiers would march to battle with half their present courage if they tramped along in silence. Beat the drums! Let the trumpet sound forth its martial note! Every man is eager for the fray while soul-stirring music excites him. Let your heart make music unto God and you will fight valiantly for the Kingdom of your Lord.
Holy joy will also be a great preventive. The man who feels the joy of the Lord will not covet worldly joy. He will not be tempted to make a God of his possessions or of his talents, or of anything else. He will say, “I have joy in God. These things I am very thankful for, but they are not my joy.” He will not crave the aesthetic in worship, for his joy will be in God and His Truth—not in external forms. Some people’s idea of joy in religion lies in fine singing, charming music, pretty dresses, splendid architecture, or showy eloquence. They need this because they do not know the secret joy of the Lord, for when that holy passion reigns within, you may sit inside four whitewashed walls and not hear a soul speak for a whole hour and a half and yet you may have as intense a joy as if you listened to the most earnest oratory or the sweetest song!—
“Joy in God is suitable to our condition!
Why should the children of a king
Go mourning all their days?”
What are we doing now, some of us? We have been hanging our harps on the willows—let us take them down—the willow limbs will bend! Thank God we did not break the harps, though we did hang them there. Let us get into our right position—children of the happy God should, themselves, be happy. Joy is certainly the best preparation for the future. We are going where, if we learn to groan ever so deeply, our education will be lost, for melancholy utterances are unknown up there! We are going where, if we learn to sing with sacred joy, our education will be useful, for the first thing we shall hear when we get into Heaven will undoubtedly be, “Hallelujah to God and the Lamb!” And if we have been joyful on earth we shall say, “Ah, I am at home here!”
Charles Spurgeon, Excerpt from the sermon, “The Fruit of the Spirit-Joy.” February 6, 1881. [S1582 in Logos Bible Software Alphabetical Index of Spurgeon’s Sermons]
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