Be Holy, Be Happy
There are some Christians who seem to divorce happiness from holiness, as if the pursuit of holiness is a dry and sad pursuit. Either choose to be happy or choose to be holy. This is a false dichotomy. But that is not the case for biblical characters. An example of this is Nehemiah.
This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep…Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:9-10
The people wept and prostrated themselves before the LORD, having seen the darkness and wickedness of their sins after hearing the Words of the Law (v.6, 9). In verses 9, 10 and 11, Nehemiah encouraged them three times to stop mourning, weeping and grieving because that day is Holy to the LORD. So, we can see here that holiness is never devoid of happiness. Nehemiah didn’t say, “continue mourning over your sin to prove your holiness”, but stop weeping for this day is Holy to the LORD.
The necessary consequence of holiness is happiness. David Murray says that “Holiness and happiness are inseparable.You can’t have one without the other. Holiness produces true happiness, and true happiness strengthens holiness.” He goes on to say that “Without happiness, holiness is incomplete. Indeed, it is no longer holiness.”
One of the greatest Puritan, Thomas Brooks defended this truth in his book, The Crown and Glory of Christianity: Or, Holiness, The Only Way To Happiness (1662) when he says,
“Holiness is happiness in the bud, and happiness is holiness at the full. Happiness is nothing but the quintessence of holiness... An absolute fullness of holiness will make an absolute fullness of happiness. When our holiness is perfect, our happiness shall be perfect; and if this were attainable on earth, there would be but little reason for men to long to be in heaven.”
Now, if you want to be truly happy, be holy! You cannot find true happiness when you indulge in the things of this world. True happiness is found in the person of the Son of God (Philippians 4:4). True happiness should not be divorced from true holiness; and this can only be found in the LORD. The hinge upon which true happiness turns is true holiness in God, given by God and sustained by God. He is center of this pursuit.
Christ-centered happiness is the key to holiness. He is most blessed, most holy… having all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself (1689 LBCF 2.2-3), so His people carry this joy within in communion with Him. Nehemiah says that the joy of the LORD is our strength. This is true blessedness. In fact the very first word in the Book of Psalms literally means happy. Not to be associated with the evil workers and to delight oneself in the LORD is holiness, that is our happiness, this is our strength, this is what keeps us alive, indeed our true holiness!
In your pursuit of holiness, find joy in it. Be satisfied in Him because in the presence of the LORD there is fullness of joy, at His right hand there are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). Indeed, there is joy in the pursuit of holiness since it must be done with the redeemed of God who found true joy in Christ (2 Tim 2:22). I think the reason why Christians grow weary in their pursuit of holiness is that they forget the second aspect of it. It is not only mortification, killing sin, but also vivification, living by the Spirit. Also, they pursue it alone.
You are not alone in your journey to be holy and to be happy. Not only that God is with you but you are not the only one who is battling sin. Go and find happiness with the people of God. The world cannot understand this but the people of God who have His joy poured in their hearts through the Spirit who works with and by the Word know this. Find someone whom you can honestly pour your heart’s struggle and burden. Be with them. Be holy with them. Be happy with them in Christ. If we cannot be happy with God on earth, we cannot be happy with Him in heaven. Indeed, when we ask the LORD to increase our joy in Jesus, He will increase our strength to resist sin and fight for purity.
Do you find joy in your pursuit of holiness?
SOLI DEO GLORIA!