“Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.” -Deuteronomy 28:47-48
One of my favorite quotes is by Jeremy Taylor, and often used by John Piper,
“God threatens terrible things if we will not be happy.”
Considering Deuteronomy 28:47-48, this is absolutely true. God told the Israelites that they would serve their enemies, hunger, thirst, be stripped naked, and lack absolutely everything. And if that wasn’t enough he said he would put a yoke of iron upon their neck until they were destroyed. All because they “did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart.” God is serious about our joy.
It is counterintuitive to think that we need warned to be happy, yet we do. We are not naturally inclined to be a cheerful people. We are naturally inclined to be downcast, depressed, unhappy, and unsatisfied. And there is one singular reason why we are this way, it is because of our selfishness.
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” -Matthew 10:39
Whoever lives his life for self, will always be unhappy. Self is never satisfied. Self is never ultimately pleased. Self may smile for a moment, but as soon as the pleasure sprouts wings and fly’s away, self is left wanting more.
You were not created to live for self, you were created to live for the glory of God. It’s only in dying to self, and living for Him do we finally find our freedom. It’s only in dying to self, and living for Him do we finally find true joy, happiness, and gladness. Whoever dies to himself, by the power of the Spirit and the cross, will discover what life is all about.
The Christian life is not one of moping around, feeling sorry for ourselves, and whining in the wilderness until we find the promise land. The Christian life is one of gladness of heart, service in joy, and praising the promised King. Even in the depths of sorrow, suffering, and tragedy we can find joy. Our tears will be wiped away one day, and that is why we can smile through them. Hope is not an invented idea, hope has a name, the name of Jesus.
So, today, heed these blessed warnings, that if we will not serve God with joy and gladness of heart, He promises terrible things.