“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
Prescription for Happiness
(Please read Philippians 4:1-9)
Paul seems to have had an attitude that colored the days rosy for him. The outward pressures on him were great, and some horrible things were done to him and said about him. He had a bodily ailment that he called “a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan,” a vivid description indicative of the pain it produced. The list of calamities that struck him is a long and depressing one: flogged several times, beaten with clubs, stoned, jailed, hungry and thirsty, sleepless, exposed to the cold, and many other adversities.
In spite of such things, though, Paul was a happy man. We have his word on that: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Obviously his internal inclination to contentment was stronger than the effect of those hardships could ever be. His attitude – his mental, inner posture – was tilted toward happiness.
“Rejoice in the Lord always,” he wrote. “I will say it again: Rejoice!” This advice is followed by some grand, high points of Christian conduct that Paul said would bring freedom from anxiety, and peace, which together constitute happiness by just about anybody’s reckoning.
And what a list of basics! Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Think about such things. These are the roots that blossom into comely words and produce the fruit of happiness in our lives. Everything on that list is good, therefore compatible with Christianity. We ought to think good thoughts because we belong to a family whose Father is perfect and we have a Savior who committed no sin.
That’s a plan worth thinking about.