Sunday, February 6, 2011
Yeah, But Is He Happy?
This will be said of the pastor, the Christian witness, the parent, the neighbour, the workmate. Does he reflect honestly and realistically the joy, praise, optimism and consistency which such a purportedly good faith should yield?
How is he to attain it? By unsullied obedience and a clear conscience. By curiosity and a continuously teachable nature. By a healthy sense of humour. By unending thankfulness, as the blessings truly cannot be numbered. By an honest vision of the sovereignty of God, and that that is as it should be. By a quick willingness to forgive. By a full and personal appropriation of Christ's noble work at the Cross. By an ability to take benefit from seasons of rest and recreation. By trusted friends, intimates and prayer partners. By a refusal to become the slave of advertised fashions and lifestyles of the age.
But such a joy is not the manufactured product of the will alone. It takes grace. It takes the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control - Galatians 5).
Here I would refer again to the exceptional exposition of Mark Guy Pearse on Psalm 103 and its culmination in praise and blessing:
"Serve the lord with gladness-that is the perfection of service, when obedience is a delight. It is an art to be learnt, and to be mastered only by exercise; and he who has learnt it has found the very secret of heaven's own blessedness. It is the service set forth by the vestments of the High Priest (Exodus 28) when he went to minister before the Lord. He was to be arrayed in the ephod 'all of blue'; and the golden breastplate, whereon were written the names of Israel, was borne upon the heart. And ever as he moved the music of the golden bells rang from his robes, 'Beneath upon the hem of the robe thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about...and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord.' Our gracious God is surely worthy of such service. For His sake let the heart be set with eager longing and resoluteness on this life of praise, and let there be the daily exercise and effort after a fuller thankfulness. And for our neighbour's sake let us seek His blessed life. Gratitude is the sweetest and most successful witness for God."
Bells (joyful focus and sacrifice of praise). Pomegranates (gifted fruit of the Spirit, bursting with reproductive seed and adaptable to all of life's conditions). Blue, purple and scarlet (arresting colours of the curtains of the Holy Place, found also on the worshiper, and suggesting a theme of heaven, sovereignty and atoning blood).
"Bless the Lord, O my soul."