“Hood, visited by a clergyman whose features, as well as language, were lugubrious, looked up at him compassionately and said, “My dear sir, I’m afraid your religion doesn’t agree with you.” The same remark might be made to others who seem to have just religion enough to make them miserable. They forget the precept “Rejoice in the Lord.” – Spurgeon, Salt Cellars (Spurgeons Collection of Proverbs)
I love cheerful people. I want to be cheerful (not lugubrious – good word!). I want our church to be filled with cheerful people.
Not annoying, fake cheerful Pollyanna people. But real, honest, cheerful people. People who know how to cry and listen to others in their suffering. For there is a time for everything – a time to rejoice and a time to mourn. People who truly care. Yet as much as possible, I hope our church would be known for being genuinely joyful and cheerful.
Cheerfulness honors God. It says, “I serve a great Master. He’s an amazing God who does great things for me.” The Bible talks a lot about joy. About fullness of joy in God’s presence. About the joy of our salvation. One of the fruits of the Spirit of joy.
Believers should be joyful because of who God is: “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy” (Ps 43:4). God is our exceeding joy. Does your demeanor (another good word) say “God is my exceeding joy”?
If we’re regularly downcast, grumpy, depressed Eeyores, who’s going to want what we have? “If that’s what Jesus does for him, I think I’ll pass.”
Jesus was joyful. Little children were attracted to him. I don’t believe any child would have been attracted to the Jesus of so many movies who looks like his dog just died when he drones in his best Shakespearian accent: “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” Quick kids, run! Get away!
I want the kids in our church to remember me as being cheerful. Hopefully, someday they’ll know it’s because of Jesus. I love interacting with kids. Once I visited a woman in our church who was sick and when I pulled up I saw her son dressed in full military gear, stalking his big brother. I called him over to me. “Soldier. Tell me your name.” He said, “Sergeant Fichner.” I almost lost it on the spot. Not Sergeant Rock, Braveheart or Custer, but Sergeant Fichner. How does a kid come up with Sergeant Fichner? Anyway, I grilled him about every weapon he carried then dismissed him with a salute. From then on whenever I saw him at church, I would immediately stand at attention and salute him. “Sergeant Fichner, Private Altrogge reporting for duty — SIR!”
We have so much to be cheerful about. More than anybody in the world who doesn’t know Jesus: “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Ps 4:7
Now I realize we all have different temperaments and we’re all going through different things. But as much as you can be cheerful. Ask Jesus to fill you with the joy of your salvation (PS 51:12). Read God’s word and grab onto his promises. God’s word produces joy as the author of Psalm 119 says, “Your testimonies…are the joy of my heart.” (v111). It’s clearly God’s will for us to have joy, for Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). It’s these and many more promises that embolden me to ask Jesus for his joy.
Not only will you bless others by cheerfulness, but you will be blessed by it: “All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” (Proverbs 15:15). God loves a cheerful giver (2 CO 9:7). Why does God love a cheerful giver? Because God is the ultimate giver, who gave his Son for us and rejoices to give good things to us.
Again, I’m not denying that Christians get depressed and anxious and sick and go through horrific trials. Every one of us will go through afflictions of various kinds and at times be grieved and downcast. But God’s ultimate plan is to wipe away every tear from our eyes and everlasting joy will be on our heads. And we can have a taste of that now. So as much as you can, ask Jesus for his joy and seek to be a cheerful witness.
If you don’t I just might have Sergeant Fichner pay you a visit.