Walking Cheerfully Glorifies God

Discussion in 'Daily Devotional Forum' started by Taylor Sexton, Jun 29, 2019.

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  1. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I was convicted by this in my reading today. What a blessing it is to serve a God of such abundant riches and gifts. How could we not walk joyfully every day?

    We glorify God by walking cheerfully. It is a glory to God, when the world sees a Christian hath that within him that can make him cheerful in the worst times; he can, with the nightingale, sing with a thorn at his breast. The people of God hath ground of cheerfulness; they are justified, and instated into adoption; and this creates inward peace; it makes music within, whatever storms are without, 2 Cor. 1:4; 1 Thes. 1:6. If we consider what Christ hath wrought for us by his blood, and wrought in us by his Spirit, it is a ground of great cheerfulness, and this cheerfulness glorifies God. It reflects upon a master when the servant is always drooping and sad, sure he is kept to hard commons, his master doth not give him what is fitting: so, when God’s people hang their heads, it looks as if they did not serve a good master, or repented of their choice; this reflects dishonour on God. As the gross sins of the wicked bring a scandal on the gospel, so do the uncheerful lives of the godly, Ps. 100:2., "Serve the Lord with gladness." Your serving him doth not glorify him, unless it be with gladness. A Christian’s cheerful looks glorify God; religion doth not take away our joy, but refine and clarify it; it doth not break our viol, but tunes it, and makes the music sweeter.

    —Thomas Watson, The Select Works of the Rev. Thomas Watson, Comprising His Celebrated Body of Divinity, in a Series of Lectures on the Shorter Catechism, and Various Sermons and Treatises (New York, NY: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1855), 14.​
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  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I have seen Polly-Anna-ish Christians who spit out trite platitudes to those suffering under hard burdens, and who wear fake smiles, and I don't think it is helpful.

    Maybe the historical use of the word cheerfulness has changed since Watson's day.

    A Christian has deep joy even in the midst of sorrows, but a Christian is not always happy or cheerful in their emotions, and to demand it is unrealistic. Maybe Watson meant the deeper joy that is below the surface, but to expect smiles in the midst of tragedies is not advised.
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  3. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I agree that a Christian is not always happy and cheerful in their emotions, but I also maintain that that is the exception and not the rule in the Christian Life. Few believers if any, have suffered to the extent the Apostle Paul did throughout his ministry. And yes he had his difficult times emotionally where he despaired even of life having the sentence of death upon him. But I also maintain that that was the exception and not the normal state of this most severely tested apostle. Paul was a man of ecstasy and joy in his human emotions and not just in his deeper self, whatever that is.

    While in a Roman jail, Paul wrote of his joy to the Philippians and spoke to them of their great joy in the midst of trials.

    "Paul wrote a letter to the Philippians that is saturated with joy. Sixteen times in just four chapters, Paul uses words like rejoice or joy to describe what our state of mind or general attitude should be as Christians. And he writes this joy-soaked letter in the midst of his own difficult circumstances."

    So we have the Apostle Peter also writing of joy to several churches that were "in heaviness through manifold temptations."

    Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
    Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
    1 Peter 1:6‭-‬8

    And this joy unspeakable and full of Glory Paul speaks of is not just your run-of-the-mill average happiness nor inner state of mind only, but we're talking about human emotions that are beyond even ordinary joy, beyond anything else a man can experience, even in the midst of trials, a joy that is far beyond what the world experiences even when their oil and wine increase.

    This type of joy even amid trial is the fruit of the holy spirit's fullness, which we are to seek and which is promised to each believer as a birthright. For the promise is unto you and your children and to all God will call a far-off.

    This sealing of the Holy Spirit is not a topic that you hear discussed very often among the Reformed. Many Reformed Christians of past times have experienced and spoken of this blessing, but to us, it sounds so emotional even Pentecostal and is often made very light of. It is my opinion that a doctrine of, and a real experience of the power of the Holy Spirit in our emotions is what is most needed in the church today. It is the power that Paul had when the Scripture says Paul being filled with the Holy Spirit turned to Elymas the sorcerer and spoke his words of judgment with power. The church needs to be enabled not just to preach sound Doctrine but to demonstrate the power of the spirit so that those within the sound of their voice will have the secrets of their heart revealed and fall down on their faces and confess that God is in you of a truth. This real presence of the Spirit is the only hope for the future of our Nations and the health of our churches. May God raise up joyful ministers that are overflowing with the love of God and the joy and power of the Holy Ghost.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  4. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    This is so true. I believe we find this joy or cheerfulness by being content in God and his will knowing that all things work together for good to those who love him. He’s our Father who loves us dearly
  5. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    The ocean has choppy waves and storms on its surface but silent and deep currents in the depths below. The Christian may have deep joy even in the midst of sorrow. But the Christian is not always happy.
  6. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee" (Ps. 51:12,13).

    I pray this often. Joy so often eludes me, yet I acknowledge its importance.
  7. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    When preaching on "Rejoice in the Lord always" my old minister at Dromara RPC said that we are always to rejoice in our union with Christ, but Paul was not telling us to be happy about our circumstances.
  8. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I don’t think the OP is speaking of a superficial happy clappy clown like person. Scripture does tell to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice, and yet, in other Scripture Paul stated that he had learned to be content in every situation he found himself in. Ed pointed out good Scripture showing our need to be content in God’s providence of our lives and a life lived for his will certainly gives us the freedom to live in a cheerful or joyful manner which is something I’m learning to do. I’ve noticed when I’m seeking my own will and selfish needs I’m discontent and grumbling about everything. Yet when I am wanting God’s will and give over to being content in God I have deep joy that reflects on my attitude and face. So even when my circumstances remain the same my attitude is different when I’m obedient to God and learn to desire his will and just be content in him. I realize there are extraordinary situations (someone dying) that causes deep pain. Even Paul said of one of his friends that had he lost that friend he would have mourned deeply. I think when we see someone down and out it’s our loving duty to come along side of them and help bear their burden.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  9. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree with the general point that you are making. Would you agree that it is fair to say that we should be content in the sense of learning to submit to God's providence in every situation in which we find ourselves as opposed to necessarily liking it? I would presume that there is nothing incongruous with being content about being poor or ill while at the same time also seeking to improve our situation. We can ask God to improve our lot while at the same time praying, not my will but your's be done.
  10. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I wanted to refrain from posting anything polemical on the Sabbath, but I think it is necessary:

    Anyone who reads Watson here, knowing his life, and thinks he is arguing that Christians should always be all smiles, even if feigned, simply does not know Watson.

    I’m sorry, brothers and sisters, but can we not sometimes just glean from our forefathers' wisdom and godliness without offering our rebuttals, especially in passages such as these that are meant to encourage, not stir debate?
  11. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Of course, I agree with all you said here. But what I was hinting at and therefore less than clear about is another phenomenon that we modern Christians often miss out on. Even teach against. What I am speaking of is that supernatural joy that is both unexpected and ecstatic to the extreme. Called in 1 Peter a "joy unspeakable and full of glory." A gift of God that often comes at the very worst of circumstances and is so great it can not be put into words. A work of the Holy Spirit promised to believers that is based on, yet is in addition to faith, and is impossible to misinterpret. An experience that can be "felt" deeply in our entire person where our love to God is amplified to the extreme. Think of Stephen's in Acts 7 awesome speech in Acts 7 where even his face appeared as that of an angle and was seen by all. This is ALWAYS based on the Word of God and His promises flowing from them. Like immediately after the Apostles were condemned by the Sanhedrin and painfully wounded and shamed with the maximum legally allowed 39 lashes with rods. So great was there filling with the Holy Spirit that they left "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name." This filling of the Spirit continued so that, "every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus."

    I would like to see this discussed further by the PB to discover if this is a "doctrine" of Scripture that we should both receive and experience. Or is it just another work of the Spirit that the cessationists would say is not for today.
  12. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Interesting thoughts, Ed. I think that the denigration of Christian experience in some Reformed circles nowadays does not help matters. When I hear people trashing experience, I wonder if they have ever read the book of Psalms?
  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    The reason I responded to the OP is because many Christians carry deep guilt due to feelings of depression in the midst of trials and often feign an act of joy. And some Christians, in a clumsy effort to encourage, end up rebuking the sufferer for his sufferings. In a short quote it is hard to show the larger nuanced context. Watson's use of the term "cheerfulness" may have changed since his time, but a Christian need not always be externally smiling to be a good Christian.
  14. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I guess I just never thought folks here would find the likes of Thomas Watson clumsy.

    My apologies.
  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Ya, right.....the nerve of me.
  16. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Only on Puritan Board, it seems, can even the devotional forum become a source of contention and sarcasm, even on the Sabbath. This is sad.

    I'll join you all again tomorrow.
  17. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Watson was one of the most positive and joy filled of all the Puritans. I call him the master of the one-liner such is his wit and wisdom. I think my favorite work of his is, Religion our True Interest, where he expounds Malachi 3:16-18

    16 Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.
    17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.jewels:
    18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
  18. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Sophomore

    Good word
  19. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I think I have to speak for myself on this. I fight with discontentment possibly more than most people. God has been dealing with me on this matter for some time now. I have a nice house which is placed on a road which semi-trucks barrel down ALL the time causing lots of noise, I think most people don't know how to drive and I'm a fantastic driver, I feel like sometimes my patients do things on purpose to manipulate me and aggravate me, and I could go on. So I probably know better than most people the "night and day" aspects of being content and living in grumbles and complaining because I've lived my life so long being discontented and grumbling about everything. So when I am being contented in God my surroundings have little to no effect on me. It's SUCH a wonderful lovely time and the results show in my behavior (I'm not anxious or depressed) and on my face (I smile a lot more). So can I say I'm unhappy about a situation but contented in God? I honestly have to say no. If I am contented in God I am joyful/happy/cheerful and it's a deep, deep feeling of those virtues. Like God's hand is literally holding me. Maybe it's just me who feels that way. Of course, I haven't recently lost anyone I love. I hope that when that does happen God gives me the grace to be content in him while I'm grieving. I believe that he will. But right now I'm learning my little lessons of true contentment in God (not my surroundings) so that when tragedy comes my way I'm better prepared.
  20. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Good sermon on this
  21. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    Watson never said anything about ALWAYS externally smiling. You mischaracterize his words.

    As for the term “Cheerful,” you may be benefited by thinking on Webster's 1828 definition—

    “Lively; animated; having good spirits; moderately joyful. This is the most usual signification of the word, expressing a degree of animation less than mirth and jollity.”
  22. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    There is nothing contentious about discussing a quote. This is a discussion board, so I am discussing. There is no desire for contention.

    Your first reply mentioned you taking a "polemical" tone. There is no need to take a polemical tone.

    The Bible commands things such as don't be anxious, and also commands us to be joyful. And yet the bible also acknowledges our sorrows. “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:2), and also tells us to weep with those who weep (even while commanding us, in general to be joyful and not be anxious).

    Watson does acknowledge a "thorn" in the breast of some believers in his quote above. But I believe that some readers could misuse this quote by Watson and pour salt into the wounds of the suffering in the name of being "Biblical".

    I have heard some biblical counselors even speak of depression as sin. That is a bit too far to make such a blanket statement.

    Watson says:

    "It reflects upon a master when the servant is always drooping and sad, sure he is kept to hard commons, his master doth not give him what is fitting: so, when God’s people hang their heads, it looks as if they did not serve a good master, or repented of their choice; this reflects dishonour on God."

    This is a good general rule, but it would have been good to also speak with more nuance about trials and depressions. The last thing the sufferer needs is a ton of more guilt to feel. So now the depressed sufferer is not only depressed but he is sinning and dishonouring God by his depression.

    If we absolutize this quote and affirm it without any nuance, then David's Psalms are not long poems of praise to God in the midst of suffering but are evidences of his dishonour towards God. King David in the Psalms numerous times then makes God look like a poor and unworthy master. Jesus Himself wept and had some dark times in his soul.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
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  23. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    To All,

    Here are several more quotes from the Puritan Master of the one-liner. Notice how much he says a single sentence.


    We are bid to “commit our way unto the Lord.” It is our work to cast care, and it is God’s work to take care. Immoderate care is a spiritual canker that doth waste and dispirit; we may sooner, by our care, add a furlong to our grief than a cubit to our comfort.

    Care when it is either distrustful or distracting is very dishonourable to God: it denies his providence, as if he sat in heaven and minded not what became of things below.


    Cheerfulness is like music to the soul: it excites to duty, it oils the wheels of affection; makes duties light, and religion rides swiftly on the wings of delight.


    A contented heart is a temple where the praises of God sound forth, not a sepulchre wherein they are buried. The Spirit of grace works in such a heart like new wine, which, under the pressure of sorrow, will have a vent open for thankfulness.
    The discontented spirit is ever murmuring; the contented mind is ever praising.

    He that is contented with his condition, be it ever so humble, never diminishes his spiritual treasures; he carries a pardon sealed in his heart.

    A contented Christian does not take his cross, but is willing to take that which God chooses, and is content with the kind and the duration of the cross. He will wait for God’s providence to remove it, but never force the door to escape from it.

    A proud man is never contented; he thinks so highly of himself that small blessings are disdained by him, and under small crosses he is impatient. The humble spirit is the contented spirit; if his cross be light, he reckons it in the inventory of his mercies; if it be heavy, he takes it on his knees—knowing “All things work together for his good.” Where humility is the foundation, contentment will be the superstructure.

    Contentment is a slip taken from the tree of life, and planted by the Spirit of God in the soul.
    It pleased God to bring the Apostle Paul into most painful and trying conditions: hear him,—“We are troubled on every side!” there was the sadness of his condition; “but not distressed,” there was his contentment: “we are perplexed,” there was his sadness; “but not in despair,” there was his contentment: he could say,—“In prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.” Yet he could add, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Paul, in regard to his faith, was like a cedar—he could not be moved; but in vicissitudes he was like a reed, bending contentedly to every wind of Providence: when a gale of prosperity blew upon him, he could bend to that; when the tempest of trial raged, he could bend to that. “I know both how to be full, and how to be abased.” A Christian, having cast anchor in heaven, his heart never sinks; a gracious spirit is a contented spirit.

    A contented Christian carries heaven about him; for what is heaven, but that sweet repose, and full confidence, that the soul shall have in God? in contentment there is the first-fruits of heaven.

    A contented Christian is like Noah in the ark: although tossed upon the waters, he reposed confidently in his God. The soul that is safe in the ark of contentment, sits quiet and sails above all the waves of trouble, and can even sing amid the deluge. The wheels of a chariot are an emblem of contentment: the wheels move, the axle stirs not. When change and motion are around us, a contented spirit remains firm in its centre.

    Wicked men are often disquieted in the enjoyment of all things; the Christian is often contented with the want of all things.
    Impatience is the daughter of infidelity. Contentment is an honeycomb which drops sweetness into every condition. Discontent is a leaven which sours every comfort: it embitters every mercy—it trebles every cross.

    This holy contentment keeps the heart from fainting in the autumn: when the fruit and leaves are gone, there is still sap in the root. So when there comes an autumn in the history of the Christian, and the leaves of his earthly prosperity fall off, there is the sap of contentment in his heart. The contented heart is never out of heart.

    Spiritual things satisfy: the more of heaven there is in the soul, the less will earth content. The joys of God’s Spirit are heart-filling and heart-cheering.

    Never look for perfection of contentment till there be perfection of grace.


    There may be the seed of grace where there is not the flower of joy. The earth may not yield a harvest of corn, yet may contain a mine of gold. A Christian may be, like vessels at sea, richly laden with jewels and spices, yet sail in the dark, and be tossed with storms.
    When pearls became plentiful at Rome, they were little valued, and even slighted. The aboundings of God’s mercies often cause them to be little prized; but he lessens them and withdraws them to teach us their value. How valuable are the sunbeams of summer after a long winter of gloom!

    The favour of God is the best jewel; it can adorn a prison and unsting death.
    “Light is sown for the righteous.” The saints’ comforts may be like seed long hidden under ground; but it is germinating, increasing, and will ere long bring forth an abundant crop.

    Holy thoughts are the dove we send out of the ark of our souls, and they bring back the olive-branch of peace. Would believers have their spirits cheerful, let their thoughts be celestial. The higher the lark flies, the sweeter it sings; the higher a soul ascends in the contemplation of God, the sweeter joy it hath.

    He that enjoys much of God in this life, carries heaven about him.
    God brings us into the depths of desertion, that we may not be brought into the depths of destruction. God thus fits his people for that time when there shall be neither clouds nor sun setting, and when the Church shall never say more, “My beloved hath withdrawn himself.”

    We shall never enjoy God fully till we enjoy him eternally.

    The Christian finds that to serve God is to enjoy God. His precepts are not burdens, but privileges—not fetters, but ornaments; and thus “His yoke is easy and his burden is light.”

    When a man sees his want of Christ, and how he lives on the alms of free grace, he is made humble. Humility is the sweet spice that is produced from poverty of spirit.

    The weak Christian hath omnipotency to underprop him: “underneath are the everlasting arms.”
    When a man has been sinning, his joy is gone, and the sting remains; but when he repents, the labour is gone, but the sweetness remains.

    Watson, T. (1850). Puritan Gems; or, Wise and Holy Sayings of the Rev. Thomas Watson, A.M. (J. Adey, Ed.) (Second Thousand, pp. 34–37). London: J. Snow, and Ward and Co.; Nisbet and Co.; E. F. Gooch.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
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  24. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    The only one here absolutizing the quote is you, brother.
  25. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I'm not a moderator, but this is a devotional forum, intended for little snippets of text, often with no context or exposition. If that is too much for some, or if some think that is harmful, I would ask them to please go start a thread somewhere which is specifically intended for debate. This forum is not for debate. This thread, which I posted for encouragement for others here, because it encouraged me, has been turned into something that has, in my view, ruined the intended effect.

    Again, it amazes me that sometimes on PuritanBoard even threads like this get some people riled up...
  26. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I am giving a caution.

    In the quotes above it sounds like it is a sin to not be cheerful. It is a sin not to be joyful. It is the mark of a weak Christian to grieve. If a Christian is unhappy, it is a mark of pride. If you are "disquieted" then you are a wicked man, according to the quotes above.

    Without a nuanced view, we make all grief and sadness to be sin. Thus King David's Psalms are largely records of his sin, and the Lord Jesus showed his sinful weakness during the times He experienced grief, if this were so.

    If we are to comfort the suffering, we are told to weep with those who weep. Yet the quotes selected seem like a stinging rebuke to any who weep.

    We need more nuance, is all I am saying.

    P.s. I am not riled up, even though you sling descriptors at me such as "contentious" and "riled up." Even in the devotional section, this is a discussion board, and so I am discussing this topic. I don't think Watson's quote give a full-orbed view of how we are to consider grief and suffering for the Christian. The final end of the Christian is joy. And we are given general commands to be joyful and not anxious. And yet, there is much suffering in life, and the Christian is not always happy in the midst of his circumstances, though that deep joy may still be in his heart down deep.
  27. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I’m sorry you read the quote that way. You seem to be alone here in that interpretation of Watson.
  28. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    No. Look at Daniel's contributions above in this thread.
  29. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Nobody else in this thread, even Daniel, has taken Watson to say that it is sinful not to be joyful. You are alone in that reading of him, brother.

    This is my last comment.
  30. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    We don't have specific rules on debate in the devotional forum; I suppose we don't since someone may on occasion post something controversial. While most probably think this was not that occasion, let the posts speak for themselves; but they have been sufficient I think. Thread closed.
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