Generally speaking, people want to be happy.
But what is happiness, anyway? Is it related to status, money, or an all-expenses paid vacation? What about a lollipop while watching the sunset?
I want to share four “ingredients of true happiness” according to John Calvin, a towering figure in Christian thought from the 1500’s. I value his insight not only because was smart, but because he endured an avalanche of personal suffering. I just think it’s wise to listen to people like that because it guards us against being too naïve or simplistic in our thinking.
In Psalm 85, God’s people are praying for renewal and restoration. They cry out to God that his glory “may dwell in our land” (verse 9). It then goes out to talk about the beauty and power of these four virtues co-existing: “Mercy and truth shall meet together; righteousness and peace shall kiss each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven” (verses 10-11, Calvin’s translation).
Mercy. Truth. Righteousness. Peace.
Calvin pays very close attention to these four virtues. He writes: “nothing can contribute more effectually to the promotion of a happy life, than that these four virtues should flourish and rule supreme.”
He doesn’t mention happy hour, a weekend getaway or negative test results—as nice as those things may be. Calvin says that true happiness is achieved when mercy, truth, righteousness and peace flourish and rule supreme.
Mercy when there is so much hate.
Truth when there is so much deception.
Righteousness when there is so much evil.
Peace when there is so much violence.
Our society seems to gravitate toward quick fixes and Band-Aid solutions. So maybe we need to aim higher.
And maybe we can learn from someone who committed his life to keeping his eyes fixed on God while enduring an avalanche of pain. [More about that in the link below.] According to Calvin, true happiness is achieved when mercy, truth, righteousness and peace flourish and rule supreme.
In a world like ours—and at a time like this—wouldn’t that be beautiful?
By Matthew Ruttan
–[New blog] Today’s devotional is based on a more fulsome blog on the same subject. It’s called “The Ingredients of True happiness—According to Calvin.” Click here to read it.
–[Book] My new book is out! It’s called “Turbulence: Devotionals to steady you through the storms of life.” Click here to learn more and for ordering options.
–[Sunday: Good out of Evil] On Sunday I’ll be teaching about Joseph (from Genesis) and how good can come out of evil. I won’t be messing around. Go here on Sunday at 10:01am to follow along.
–Bible quotes are from the NIV
–“Up!” is published 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and returns on July 6.