Happiness is the opposite of holiness.

At least that’s what the devil tells us.

You can have either happiness or holiness but you cannot have both.

And given the choice, most try happiness.

Wouldn’t it be great if God had said somewhere that holiness and happiness are inseparable, that you can’t have one without the other.

What, He did? Where? What exactly did He say?

“This day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”” (Neh. 8:9).

The people had rightly mourned over their sins, but there came a point when their weeping went on too long and too deep, and God said through Nehemiah, “This is a holy day. Therefore let it be a happy day.”

He underlines by saying, “Go home, have a feast, and celebrate with your friends and family, because this is a holy day.”

The logic is inescapable. Happiness is not only compatible with holiness, it is an essential part of it. Without happiness, holiness is incomplete. Indeed, it is no longer holiness.

But what kind of happiness are we talking about?

Nehemiah defines it as “the joy of the Lord.” It is a joy that comes from God and is centered in God. God gives it and God is it. And given that the people had been repenting of their sins, this can only be an Old Testament call to joyful faith in God as their Savior from sin.

And as if we needed another reason to pursue, accept, and enjoy the happiness of holiness, Nehemiah adds the motive: “For the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

Holy happiness strengthens us. It produces defensive and offensive strength. It powerfully protects us from evil and it empowers us to fight for good.

Holiness, happiness, and hardiness. A blessed trinity from the Blessed Trinity!

  • http://tylereiland.com Tyler

    Great reminder. Happiness and Holiness are not opposed to one another. Your article reminded me of a Jonathan Edwards quote, “God’s respect to the creature’s good, and his respect to himself, is not a divided respect; but both are united in one, as the happiness of the creature aimed at is happiness in union with himself.”

    Great article. Thanks for writing it.

  • Billy McQuade

    Thank you Dr Murray. As I go out for my daily power walk in the snow I will be thinking about this.
    This also reminded me of a phrase I have heard often: “God is more concerned with your holiness than you happiness”. Hmmm………He’s actually concerned for both! What a joyous thought to begin the day!

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