A recipe for national happiness?

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 briefly share four “ingredients of true happiness” according to John Calvin, a theologian from the 1500’s. 

I value his insight not only because was smart, but because he endured an avalanche of personal suffering. 

In Psalm 85, God’s people are praying for renewal and restoration in their land. It’s a good Psalm for Canada Day or Independence Day. They cry out to God that his glory “may dwell in our land” (verse 9).

It then goes on 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.

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.

For young or old, for rich or poor, for people of different backgrounds and political leanings. 

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. We also seem to be yelling more.

Maybe we need to aim higher.

Mercy. Truth. Righteousness. Peace.

In a world like ours—and at a time like this—wouldn’t that be beautiful?


–Today’s devotional is adapted from one that originally appeared on July 3, 2020. 

–The Up Devotional is published 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and resumes on July 4, 2022.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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