Since 2006 the folks at Gallup have been measuring America's levels of anger, stress, and worry. I bet you can guess what I'm about to say. Our levels in all three categories are rising. We are not happy. When it comes to stress, Americans scored 20 points higher than the global average.
With so much going on in the news and with so much demand on our lives, it's not surprising to hear that Americans are amongst the most stressed-out people in the world. We could probably each give some very good reasons as to why we are so worried. And when it comes to anger, we all feel a little on edge. Such a reaction from stressed out, worried people is not surprising. If anger, worry, and stress have become so natural in our culture, is it even reasonable to think we can be happy?
This week I am sharing 5 ways to stay happy all day. In my last post I introduced the topic and shared the first way; rejoice and repeat. With this post, I want to continue to explore Philippians 4:4-7 and share the second way we stay happy all day. To stay happy you have to a good reason for a happy reaction.
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Way #2 - The Right Reasons Lead to the Right Reactions
In Philippians 4:4 Paul instructed us to rejoice and repeat it. In Philippians 4:5 he calls on us to give reasons for such rejoicing. "Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand." Some translations of the verse read, "Let your gentleness be known to all. The Lord is at hand."
When you come across a verse in an English translation of the Bible in which you have two completely unrelated words like "reasonable" and "gentle" you wonder, "So, which is it?" Instead of the answer being one or the other, the answer is probably both.
Sometimes words are lost in translation. The seeming discrepancy simply means that we don't quite have a word that captures the meaning of the original language. The jest of the word is that you exhibit a gentleness that is more than just a personality trait. You are gentle for good reason. You have learned some things. You believe some things. Your reactions are not a response to the situation, but a response to solid, foundational, Biblical reasons that undergird your joy.
Don't Be a Happy Idiot
The Bible calls us to reasonable rejoicing. We reject any notion that the Bible would call us to be happy idiots. By happy idiot, I mean that person who is sappy and disconnected from reality. The Bible speaks to true human emotions like sorrow and discouragement. The Bible never endorses any behavior in which we would pretend that something bad is good. We are not to be out of touch with the situation, but we can have a much different reaction. To simply be "gentle" for the sake of gentleness is unreasonable. To pretend to be happy makes you look like an idiot.
A Great Reason
Instead of worry, stress, or anger overcoming us, we rest our joy on a very solid reason, "The Lord is at hand (Phil. 4:5b)." In every circumstance of life, the Lord is near. God is not aloof, uninterested, or disconnected. He has not forgotten me nor has He distanced Himself from me. The Lord is at hand.
His Word is available. His Spirit is personal. His promises are faithful.
When the Lord is your first reason to rejoice, joy is always available. You can rest assured that if the Lord has prepared "this" for you then He has prepared you for "this."
You're not to be a happy idiot. You always have a reason to rejoice. This reason governs your reactions. If you want reasons to stay happy all day, take some time to study God's Word and write down reasons God has given us to rejoice. One of the foremost reasons we can rejoice is because of salvation. God reconciles the sinner to Himself through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ - and even Heaven rejoices (Luke 15:10)! What are some of the other reasons that the Bible gives us as reasons to rejoice?
Bible Study Questions:
Read Psalm 126. Pay particular attention to verse 11, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
- What emotions are expressed in Psalm 126?
- In the beginning of the passage, David makes a statement that would lead us to believe that he is experiencing some sort of turmoil. What are the truths/reasons he cites throughout the passage that give him encouragement and joy?
- What are the promises to be believed?
- What are the commands to be obeyed (hint: there may not be a stated command in the passage, but there may be one that is implied or understood)?
- What are the principles to be applied?
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