“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
“All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15
If "a cheerful heart" is "good medicine" and "has a continual feast" and "a crushed spirit dries up the bones" and make our days "wretched", who wouldn’t want a cheerful heart? Then the question is–How can we have a cheerful heart?
We are to be "joyful always" and “give thanks in all circumstances”. This comes if we “pray continually”:
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 This one Scripture sums up the key to a cheerful heart.
(1 We are to be “joyful always”:
Always having joy shows that we have complete faith in God:
“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” Psalm 5:11
“–and you are to rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to.” Deuteronomy 12:18
Doing everything for the Lord gives us a sense of satisfaction:
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and
ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11
The Jewish people were distressed because they realized they had been punished because they had sinned greatly against the Lord. But Nehemiah tells them not to grieve. They can find joy in the fact that God loves them and forgives them:
“Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is
sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10 So it is with those that have chosen to be the children of the Lord. We can have joy in Him and that is our strength.
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” Psalm 28:7
“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13:5-6
Even when Paul was in prison he could “rejoice in the Lord” and admonish us to “rejoice in the Lord”:
“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” Philippians 3:1
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
We are to think about positive things:
“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 We are to think about what is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Each of these words could be defined and examined, but the general concept is easy to understand.
We are to fix our eyes on Jesus:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfected of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 We are to think about what would please Him or He would do.
Jesus, while on earth, looked forward to heaven. As God’s children, we too can look forward to our real home, heaven:
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Christ Jesus, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21
(2 We are to “pray continually”.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7 Luke 11:9
God has been so good to us, and longs for us to ask so He can shower His blessing on us. We can trust Him in all circumstances:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall make your paths straight.” Psalm 3:5-6 To have victory in every situation, we just have to “acknowledge him”. We have to pray to Him seeking His guidance and then give Him glory for answered prayer.
We can trust God even when we do not understand any delay or seemingly unanswered prayer. Just wait for Him:
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
(3 We are to “give thanks in all circumstances” .
Even when we face trials we can have a cheerful heart:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2
We can have a cheerful heart when we face trials because we know that God works everything for our good, to make us more like Jesus: “And we know that is all things God works for the good of those who love him…for those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…” Romans 8:28-29
Here are a few other suggestions:
(4 We are to keep sin out of our lives:
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30 Envy (and many other sins) rots the bones and the absence of sin gives a heart at peace.
We avoid evil by fearing (by reverent submission to) the Lord:
“Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.” Proverbs 16:6
Not obeying God is like being in a prison. A person who never turns to the Lord will stay in that prison:
“The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.” Proverbs 5:22-23
Proverbs 1:20-33 and Revelation 20:15 tells what happens to those who reject God and His wisdom.
We must obey God if we want a cheerful heart. He knows how we can have a cheerful heart because He created us and He wants us to have a cheerful heart because He loves us so much.
We should ask forgiveness as soon as we realize we have sinned. Through belief in Jesus are our sins covered:
“Blessed is he who transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not (will never) count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” Psalm 32:1-2 (Romans 4:7-8) We are blessed if we believe in Jesus and have accepted His free gift of dying to pay the penalty for our sins.
(5 We should think about other people and their needs. If we try to make others happy, we are apt to be happy ourselves. Some ways we can do this are in the following Bible verses:
“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news brings health to the bones.” Proverbs 15:30
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24 We can be pleasant to others and encourage them.
The Bible says:
“Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14
“…God is love.” 1 John 4:8
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9
We bring joy to our parents if we obey God:
“A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father…” Proverbs 29:3
We bring joy to others by obeying Jesus. John is encouraged by his friend, Gaius whom he considered his spiritual child:
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4
Paul writes to his friend, Philemon:
“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 7 We make God and others happy when we refresh those who believe in Jesus. We can refresh "the hearts of the saints" by either doing something for them physically or spiritually.
(6 Telling others about Jesus will give us joy. The reason Jesus left us on earth was to be ambassadors for Him. Part of our reward in heaven will be the people that we have had a part of their being there:
“For this is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?” 1 Thessalonians 3:9
“…he who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30
“’Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘And I will make you fisher of men.’” Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God was making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20
Jesus had more joy than anyone:
“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” Hebrews 1:8-9
Why? Because He trusted and obeyed God the Father perfectly:
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11
To have joy and a cheerful heart, your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.