On his radio show, Dennis Prager devotes an hour a week to the subject of happiness. The subject has proven important enough to fill the hour week after week, year after year. Prager has a lot of good things to say about the subject, perhaps the most important of which is that being a happy person is a moral responsibility. To walk around as grumpy as Eeyore is to have a draining effect on others, which is a profoundly unloving thing to do. Plus, it is an affront to the God who made us for joy. 

But of what use is happiness in this life if it is to be followed by an eternity of misery (Matthew 16:26)? Sadly, Prager rejects the Author of life (Acts 3:15), the only One who can make a person happy forever. He gathers golden nuggets from the Law of God, but he fails to take that Law seriously enough, imagining himself to be a righteous keeper of the Law. Prager may wear his earthly happiness as a badge of his own spirituality, a token that supposedly proves that God is happy with him. But in the end, being without Jesus Christ, Prager cannot help himself, let alone the millions of others who look to him for help with their struggle to find joy. 

In a fallen world, even the redeemed may at times struggle to be happy. Some Christians suffer from low levels of dopamine or other chemical imbalances, or they face extremely difficult circumstances. There are many factors that can make it hard to be happy. These can affect Christians, not just others in the world. That a Christian might struggle to be happy in this life is not prima facie evidence that he or she lacks eternal life. But, that said, there really are “better promises” (Hebrews 8:6) available to the Christian, which include not only eternal life in the world to come but also “new life” (Acts 5:20) in this sin-cursed world. Even in a fallen world, Christians should find ways to be happy.

Growing into a joyful disposition is like any other area of Christian sanctification. The redeemed grow out of bad habits, like smoking, cursing, and sexual sin. The redeemed grow into good habits, which include the things that make for joy.

Happiness is part of the inheritance of the Christian. Joy will be our eternal possession. One day we will experience the “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11) when we enter into the very presence of God. And there are levels of joy available to Christians even now, higher levels than most of us imagine (Ephesians 3:20). 

If you are Christian and those around you would not describe you as an especially joyful person, then I’m going to tell you where to look. The answer isn’t Dennis Prager’s radio show. Happiness is to be found by reading the Bible, and in it’s most concentrated form, it is to be found book in the book of Philippians.

Recently the Lord showed me a most amazing thing about the book of Philippians. I saw that it divided quite naturally into 8 sections. I gave each of those sections heading. Then, reading each section again, I noticed something that each section had in common. What I saw blew my mind. Every single one of those sections had within it a specific verse about joy. Suddenly, joy burst out of the book of Philippians like an image from an autosterogram (Autostereograms are two-dimensional images with repeating patterns that hide an underlying three-dimensional image). What’s more amazing is that when I saw joy jump off the pages of Philippians, I felt joy rise up inside of me.

So, I have decided that the next eight editions of this newsletter are going to be devoted to taking these eight passages one by one. We’re going to study Philippians in eight parts, with a view to increasing our joy. Like a Christian Happiness Hour, week after week, we are going to pursue happiness.

If Prager has the answer, then why is the same Happiness Hour offered again and again? If it had power to make the unhappy happy, why is still needed every week? Prager’s shows are like the Jewish sacrifices of old, “would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins” (Hebrews 10:2)? If Prager’s shows could make people eternally happy, then why do they need to keep coming back to his well every week?

Unlike Prager, we have Christ. Therefore, we ought to have faith that God will increase our joy as we look to the book of Philippians. So, please read the book of Philippians this week. Pray that in the weeks to come, God will make us glad (Psalm 92:4).