1. OBEYING WITH JOY
a. What type of obedience does God accept, and why? Deuteronomy 28:45–47.
“True religion brings man into harmony with the laws of God, physical, mental, and moral. It teaches self-control, serenity, temperance. Religion ennobles the mind, refines the taste, and sanctifies the judgment. It makes the soul a partaker of the purity of heaven. Faith in God’s love and overruling providence lightens the burdens of anxiety and care. It fills the heart with joy and contentment in the highest or the lowliest lot. Religion tends directly to promote health, to lengthen life, and to heighten our enjoyment of all its blessings. It opens to the soul a never-failing fountain of happiness.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 600.
“Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them than they are seeking for themselves. Man is doing the greatest injury and injustice to his own soul when he thinks and acts contrary to the will of God. No real joy can be found in the path forbidden by Him who knows what is best and who plans for the good of His creatures. The path of transgression is the path of misery and destruction.”—Steps to Christ, p. 46.
“God longs to pour upon men and women the rich current of His love. He longs to see them delighting to do His will, using every jot of their entrusted powers in His service, teaching all who come within the sphere of their influence that the way to be treated as righteous for Christ’s sake is to obey the law.”—Child Guidance, p. 81.
2. NATURAL RESULTS
a. How is obedience linked to joy? John 14:15; 15:10, 11; Proverbs 21:15.
“In the path of obedience and duty there is contentment and even joy.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 98.
“The principle of worldlings is to get all they can of the perishable things of this life. Selfish love of gain is the ruling principle in their lives. But the purest joy is not found in riches nor where covetousness is always craving, but where contentment reigns and where self-sacrificing love is the ruling principle. There are thousands who are passing their lives in indulgence and whose hearts are filled with repining. They are victims of selfishness and discontent in the vain effort to satisfy their minds with indulgence. But unhappiness is stamped upon their very countenances, and behind them is a desert, because their course is not fruitful in good works.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 382.
“Real happiness is found only in being good and doing good. The purest, highest enjoyment comes to those who faithfully fulfill their appointed duties. No honest work is degrading. It is ignoble sloth which leads human beings to look down on the simple, everyday duties of life. The refusal to perform these duties causes a mental and moral deficiency which will one day be keenly felt. At some time in the life of the slothful his deformity will stand out clearly defined. Over his life-record is written the words, A consumer, but not a producer.”—Messages to Young People, pp. 210, 211.
“Have there not been some bright spots in your experience? Have you not had some precious seasons when your heart throbbed with joy in response to the Spirit of God? When you look back into the chapters of your life experience do you not find some pleasant pages? Are not God’s promises, like the fragrant flowers, growing beside your path on every hand? Will you not let their beauty and sweetness fill your heart with joy?”—Steps to Christ, p. 117.
b. Explain the Christian’s attitude. Romans 12:8 (last part); Nehemiah 8:10.
“It is often said that Jesus wept, but that He was never known to smile. Our Saviour was indeed a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief, for He opened His heart to all the woes of men. But though His life was self-denying and shadowed with pain and care, His spirit was not crushed. His countenance did not wear an expression of grief and repining, but ever one of peaceful serenity. His heart was a wellspring of life, and wherever He went He carried rest and peace, joy and gladness.”—Ibid., p. 120.
3. WORKING WITH JOY
a. What did God provide in the perfection of Eden to make our first parents happy? Genesis 2:8, 15.
“To the dwellers in Eden was committed the care of the garden, ‘to dress it and to keep it.’ Their occupation was not wearisome, but pleasant and invigorating. God appointed labor as a blessing to man, to occupy his mind, to strengthen his body, and to develop his faculties. In mental and physical activity Adam found one of the highest pleasures of his holy existence. And when, as a result of his disobedience, he was driven from his beautiful home, and forced to struggle with a stubborn soil to gain his daily bread, that very labor, although widely different from his pleasant occupation in the garden, was a safeguard against temptation and a source of happiness. Those who regard work as a curse, attended though it be with weariness and pain, are cherishing an error. The rich often look down with contempt upon the working classes, but this is wholly at variance with God’s purpose in creating man. . . . Our Creator, who understands what is for man’s happiness, appointed Adam his work. The true joy of life is found only by the working men and women. The angels are diligent workers; they are the ministers of God to the children of men. The Creator has prepared no place for the stagnating practice of indolence.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 50.
b. What did Jesus come to do in this world and what reaction did that work have on Him? Luke 19:10; 15:5–7.
“In a little while we are to meet our Lord; and what account shall we have to give Him of the use we have made of our time, our talents of influence, and our possessions? Our joy should be in the work of saving souls.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 481.
“Those who give their lives to Christlike ministry know the meaning of true happiness. Their interests and their prayers reach far beyond self. They themselves are growing as they try to help others. They become familiar with the largest plans, the most stirring enterprises, and how can they but grow when they place themselves in the divine channel of light and blessing? Such ones receive wisdom from heaven. They become more and more identified with Christ in all His plans. There is no opportunity for spiritual stagnation. Selfish ambition and self-seeking are rebuked by constant contact with the absorbing interests, the elevated aspirations, which belong to high and holy activities.”—Ibid., vol. 9, p. 42.
4. SUFFERING WITH JOY
a. What can we expect in this world as a result of our Christian walk, how should that make us feel—and why? 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12, 13.
“To be tried and tested is a part of our moral discipline. Here we may learn the most valuable lessons, and obtain the most precious graces, if we will draw near to God, and endure all in His strength.”—Life Sketches, pp. 265, 266.
“The bright and cheerful side of our religion will be represented by all who are daily consecrated to God. We should not dishonor God by the mournful relation of trials that appear grievous. All trials that are received as educators will produce joy. The whole religious life will be uplifting, elevating, ennobling, fragrant with good words and works.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 365, 366.
b. How should we react when we suffer for something we do not deserve to suffer for, and what sustains us in this warfare? 1 Peter 2:20; Hebrews 12:2.
c. What should we remember in our darkest moments—and why? John 16:20; Romans 8:28; Deuteronomy 33:25; Psalm 126:5.
“We cannot afford to let our spirits chafe over any real or supposed wrong done to ourselves. Self is the enemy we most need to fear. . . .
“We should not allow our feelings to be easily wounded. We are to live, not to guard our feelings or our reputation, but to save souls. As we become interested in the salvation of souls we cease to mind the little differences that so often arise in our association with one another.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 485.
“As those who stand in the forefront of the battle see that the special warfare of Satan is directed against them, they will realize their need of strength from God, and they will labor in His strength. The victories that they gain will not exalt them, but will cause them to lean more securely upon the Mighty One. Deep and fervent gratitude to God will spring up in their hearts, and they will be joyful in the tribulation that comes to them while pressed by the enemy.”—Gospel Workers, p. 266.
“You may be perplexed in business; your prospects may grow darker and darker, and you may be threatened with loss; but do not become discouraged; cast your care upon God, and remain calm and cheerful. Pray for wisdom to manage your affairs with discretion, and thus prevent loss and disaster. Do all you can on your part to bring about favorable results. Jesus has promised His aid, but not apart from our effort. When, relying upon our Helper, you have done all you can, accept the result cheerfully.”—Steps to Christ, p. 122.
5. GIVING WITH JOY
a. What is a simple principle of investment? Matthew 13:8, 44; Luke 6:38.
“A continual imparting of God’s gifts wherever the cause of God or the needs of humanity demand our aid, does not tend to poverty. . . . The sower multiplies his seed by casting it away. So it is with those who are faithful in distributing God’s gifts. By imparting they increase their blessings.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 345.
b. How important is the act of giving? Malachi 3:8–11; 2 Corinthians 8:1–3.
“The willingness to sacrifice on the part of the Macedonian believers came as a result of wholehearted consecration. . . . They rejoiced in the privilege of denying themselves even of necessary things in order to supply the needs of others. When the apostle would have restrained them, they importuned him to accept their offering. In their simplicity and integrity, and in their love for the brethren, they gladly denied self, and thus abounded in the fruit of benevolence.”—Ibid., pp. 343, 344.
“The plan of redemption was entirely voluntary on the part of our Redeemer, and it is the purpose of Christ that all our benevolence should be freewill offerings.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 413.
c. What kind of gifts are acceptable to God? 2 Corinthians 9:7.
“[God] is not pleased to have His treasury replenished with forced supplies. The loyal hearts of His people, rejoicing in the saving truth for this time, will, through love and gratitude to Him for this precious light, be earnest and anxious to aid with their means in sending the truth to others.”—Ibid.
“The Christian will be filled with joy in proportion as he is a faithful steward of his Lord’s goods.”—Counsels on Stewardship, p. 136.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why is happy obedience a part of Christianity?
2. How do we find real happiness?
3. What role does useful employment have in satisfaction and happiness?
4. Upon what condition only do trials bring joy?
5. Why is it important to have a giving attitude?