Solomon encouraged his readers to enjoy life while they were living (especially in their youth), because the darkness of death is coming. Earlier Solomon said that enjoying life includes eating and drinking (Eccl. 2:24; 3:13; 8:15; 9:7), wearing nice clothes and pleasant lotions (9:8), enjoying marital bliss (9:9), and finding satisfaction in one’s work (2:24; 3:22; 5:18). Do what your heart desires, but first delight yourself in the Lord so your desires are in line with the joy of the Lord.

For believers, the key to happiness is wanting what we have. Think about it. All commercialization is based on the premises that we would be happy if we only had what they are selling. Never has there been a time in human history when so many people have had so many material possessions and entertainment options, and yet so unhappy. God’s concept of happiness is summed up in the simple little proverb; “Happy are those who have what they want!” Then you will be happy all your life. The problem is we focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have.

Consider first what we deserve. If God gave us what we deserved, we would all suffer eternal damnation in hell. Now consider what we have. We have eternal life in Christ Jesus. We have the forgiveness of sins. We have the internal presence of the Holy Spirit who leads us and enables us to live a liberated life in Christ. We have new life and a rich inheritance in Christ. We have a God who will meet all our needs and will never leave us. We should count our blessings and thank God for what we have.

Happiness can be so fleeting because it is dependent upon the circumstances of life. But we can always be joyful in our spirit when we know that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Personal happiness is the wrong goal. The goal is to know God and become the person He has created us to be. That leads only to godliness and contentment. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6: 6-8).

God is joyful, and joy is a fruit of the Spirit. The joy that comes from knowing God is the result of our disposition being at one with His disposition. Only in Christ can we say, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Dr. Neil

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