"There are more flies caught with honey than with vinegar"1
Why should Christians be filled with joy? Because God is filled with joy. And because heaven, our eternal home, is a place known for joy and bliss and we have living within us, in the person of the Holy Spirit, a down payment or foretaste of what that glorious inheritance will be. Continue reading . . .
Why should Christians be filled with joy? Because God is filled with joy. And because heaven, our eternal home, is a place known for joy and bliss and we have living within us, in the person of the Holy Spirit, a down payment or foretaste of what that glorious inheritance will be. So reasoned Charles Spurgeon. But he cites two additional reasons why “cheerfulness” should characterize the Christian’s earthly experience. First:
“IS NOT THE GOSPEL CALCULATED TO MAKE MEN HAPPY WHEN IT IS REALLY UNDERSTOOD, BELIEVED, AND ENJOYED? You believe that Jesus Christ is man in our nature; that the Word was made flesh. Did not this grand truth set all heaven on a blaze with splendor on the night of the nativity, while angels chanted midnight chorales, and should it not also set your heart a-glow with sacred joy every night and every day, while all your powers and passions sing with gratitude?” (“Bells for the Horses!” The Sword and the Trowel, March 1866, in The Spurgeon Reader, 20).
The foundational truth that Jesus died for sinners and secured their forgiveness in his precious blood is the source of all comfort and joy. Thus,
“It seems to me that if one had to conceive beforehand, without observation, what state of mind that heart would be in which had thoroughly received the gospel of peace, one would be constrained to mention, together with other sacred effects, happiness as a most prominent result. Surely, I should say, a soul elect of God, bought with the blood, called by the Spirit, made a partaker of heavenly banquets, and ordained unto eternal life, must have a new song put into its mouth. We have fellowship with a Saviour whose joys were as deep though not so apparent as his agonies; and we may find peace where he found his, namely, in a contemplation of the glory which the Father receives in the work of his dear Son” (21).
Yet one more reason why Christians should be cheerful and filled with joy is the evangelistic appeal it creates:
“The main reason why I advocate cheerfulness is, that IT ALWAYS RECOMMENDS THE TRUTH TO THOSE WHOM YOU WISH TO IMPRESS WITH IT. If you stand up and say, with a miserable face and a whining voice, it is a most blessed thing to be in Christ Jesus, observers will form their judgment rather by your face than by your words; and after you have been commending the religion of Jesus, they will mentally make this note – ‘And a blessed specimen of it you are! From what we see in you, its ways are not the ways of pleasantness, and its paths are not the paths of peace (22-23).
As Spurgeon has said, if the public persona we present is one that carries “a miserable face and a whining voice” we should not be surprised when the non-Christian world responds to our appeals by saying: “So, this ‘good news’ you proclaim will make me like you? No thanks!”
Spurgeon has some good advice for how we communicate the gospel. Simply put: “There are more flies caught with honey than with vinegar. Better to go forth with a sweet smile upon your face and with gentleness written across your countenance than to be morose, stern, and uncivil; for if you are the latter , you belie with your face what you say with your tongue” (24).
If all this has little effect on you and you continue to struggle with depression and sadness, take Spurgeon’s advice:
“Turn to your own experience, and to God’s Word. Think of the goodness of God in the past, and of the promises of God as to the future. Remember that you are still a child in the divine family; that the mercy-seat is open still; that Christ’s precious blood is still able to cleanse; that the Holy Spirit still worketh in us, to will and to do of the Master’s good pleasure; that there is, beyond this little life, a world to come, brimming with happiness and blessedness. Surely these bells will ring in your ears with a holy melody” (25).