“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth.”
Are young people happy?
Someone might answer that question with a firm, “Yes.” He might continue with this explanation, “It seems as if they are always laughing. They do not want to take anything seriously. There is usually laughter heard in the hall of any high school.”
Someone else might answer, “Not always. Apart from their peers they can be untalkative and generally very moody.”
Young people, are you happy?
Do you want to be happy?
If you are honest with yourself, I think that you will have to say that you do not always want to be happy. There are times when you actually want to be nasty, when you delight in a cruel word, when you take pleasure in being moody and slouching around the house like a grouch.
Did you know that God commands us to be happy all the time? God tells us that we must rejoice always, evermore!
Is it not remarkable? Some people charge Christianity with making people sad. Maybe it is because they have met too many disobedient Christians or faith-without-works Christians.
Because Jesus has suffered, we are encouraged, commanded, and enabled to rejoice. We ought to rejoice that there is a command to rejoice. Who wants to be sad or silent when God says, “Rejoice evermore”?
This divine command is directed to each one of us individually. No one can be happy for you. One might have a personality to cheer you, and his presence might cheer you, but happiness is a thing you must practice yourself.
God has not left it to our own choice whether we will sorrow or rejoice. This is personal and permanent. There are some things which are to be done at one time, and some at another. But rejoicing is for all times, forever. There are some things which when done once are finished and need never be done again, but you are never done with rejoicing. It is first and last; beginning, middle, and end.
Some say that we must only have the habit of rejoicing. They say this because they think you cannot do it always. I know what they mean, but I do not know how we may say that in the light ofPhilippians 4:4 (“alway”) and I Thessalonians 5:16 (“evermore”). These verses expressly tell us that we must never leave off being happy.
It is a sin not to rejoice. It is a sin not to be a happy Christian. The next time you meet a happy Christian, do not criticize him before you criticize yourself for not rejoicing.
How do we rejoice? How can we be always happy?
I think that it is obvious to all of us that we must make a distinction. We are not told by God to rejoice always in things. That is a carnal happiness. But that is often, too often, the source of our happiness. Such happiness is impossible to have always. It is dependent on circumstances. Then we are happy when things go well; but what happens when things do not go well? Then we are happy when we have a date, but what happens when we do not have a date. Then we are happy when the basketball team wins, but when it loses. . . .
Be careful. The most we can say is that we may rejoice in the things of this life. BUT we are forbidden to rejoice too much in these things. These earthly things are like honey: nice, but too much makes you vomit (Proverbs 25:16). You can easily go too far with such joy. But when God commands us to be happy and to rejoice evermore, it is impossible to go too far. Some people should not be happy. That’s right.
Some people should not rejoice always. If you cannot call Jesus your Friend, you ought not be happy. If prayer is only work and an obligation, then you will find it hard to be happy at all times. But if your hope is fixed on Jesus and what He did on the cross, then you may rejoice. If you are really a partaker of the life of Christ, then you can rejoice.
Our happiness may not be fanatical. There are some restless, excitable folk who cry “Hallelujah” at anything or nothing. We want excitement, but of a proper kind. We covet a high and holy joy. But remember that joy always acts upon the truth. Your joy must come out of a clear understanding of the things of God, or it does not profit you anything. You may exhibit joy only when you can justify it.
Your joy, in order to be at all times, is a power of the new nature which God works in you by His Spirit. It is a full conviction that whatever God does is right. It is an agreement with the providence of God, no matter what it brings. It is an intense delight in God Himself and in the person of His dear Son. And consequently it is a quietness and calm of soul which passes all understanding.
The object of such rejoicing is first God. The psalmist called God his exceeding joy (Psalm 37:4 andPsalm 43:4). Is God your joy? Do you find every attribute of God to be an inexhaustible gold mine of precious joy? Or have you not thought of it that way?! Do you find more joy in your car than in God’s electing love? Do you find more joy with a date than with God’s unchanging grace? Do you find more joy in making a jump shot than in God’s illimitable power? Do you find more joy in worldly music than in God’s transcending glory? Do you delight more in sin than in the fact that God is your Father? Think of it!
Think of Jesus. Consider His love and rejoice (John 15:11). Or are you thinking that such activity can wait until you become older? Did you ever ask yourself where you got the confidence that you were going to live to be older?
Do you rejoice as you should? As you want? Is this true spiritual happiness missing?
Then you, confessing child of God, must be busy. Gird yourself for holy exercise and labor.
And why not labor for such a precious possession? When you have other desires, you seek to have them fulfilled, do you not? When your stomach tells you that you are hungry, do you not get busy and find a way to satisfy that hunger?
Do you not have even more hunger for this joy? What bliss to rejoice evermore!
Then we must be busy, seeking to obtain such a blessed joy.
Believe and the thousands of blessings promised will cause joy to spring from your soul.
Begin hoping for the resurrection, the second coming, and the glory of heaven. The hope of the righteous shall be gladness, Proverbs 10:28.
Such faith, hope, love, and trust the Lord implants within us that we might rejoice. The Lord implants these that we might exercise ourselves in them.
Pray. Pray without ceasing. Pray for this joyous contentment in the ways of the, Lord. Prayer can make the darkening cloud remove so you will rejoice and be happy.
Seek this blessed happiness in the way of singing. Sing not the songs of the world, but the songs of Zion. Sing the Word of God in psalm. Sing of the experiences of the saints of old. Then joy and happiness shall settle over you.
Look directly to the Word of God. Sit still with the Word. Enter into your closet with it and meditate upon what God has spoken, promised, commanded.
Why should we not be happy, since all is ours? When the past and all its sins are blotted out and when the future and all its wants are provided, why not be happy and rejoice?
One of the most precious fruits of such rejoicing is the strength it provides against temptation. You may be the object of temptation, but its earthly pleasurable bait will not entice you as much if you are already happy. The joy of the Lord is an armor.
This joy shuts out worldly hilarity from your heart. If one is already happy, he will not seek his happiness from the world. If one is already rejoicing, then the proffered joy of the pleasures of Egypt are resistible.
Parents, make your homes happy. Make your homes such that your young people will find it difficult to go away every night. Make your homes places of joy so that they will want to bring their friends home with them.
We are not inclined to go after worldly mirth when we are happy in the Lord.
So “rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, rejoice.”