Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from June 20 to 26 are provided by Kate Moon who serves in E. Asia.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
1 Kings 10:8-9: “How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.”
Because I’m happy (Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof)
Because I’m happy (Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth)
Because I’m happy (Clap along if you know what happiness is to you)
Because I’m happy (Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do)
– lyrics from “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
I love the sequence in Despicable Me 2, perfectly set to this song, when Gru is dancing down the streets because he’s on cloud nine. His impromptu date with Lucy the night before ended with a kiss on the cheek, and he is happy. A few scenes later, however, we see the sequence played comically in reverse because circumstances have changed, and it becomes a classic example of the distinction we sometimes make as Christians between “happiness” and “joy.” We associate happiness with the emotional high so exuberantly depicted here but which is dependent on circumstances, and we say that joy is better because it does not.
Yet J.P. Moreland in his book, The Lost Virtue of Happiness, tells us that the concept of happiness was not always perceived in this way. He writes, “Here we must examine the classical understanding of happiness proclaimed by Moses, Solomon, Jesus, Aristotle, Plato, the church fathers and medieval theologians, and many more—the understanding that has recently been replaced by ‘pleasurable satisfaction.’ According to the ancients, happiness is a life well lived, a life of virtue and character, a life that manifests wisdom, kindness, and goodness.”
This is the kind of happiness that in today’s passage the Queen of Sheba is attributing to the people who are under the rule of a good and wise king. Though she has just seen the vast wealth and splendor of Solomon, she interestingly connects his people’s happiness, not to these but instead to how God has given them a just and righteous leader, someone they can trust to maintain these values in their society.
What truly makes us happy? And how do we strive to bring happiness to others? For some parents, it may be in providing materially for their families, which is most honorable. But do we also seek to foster a family environment where wisdom, kindness and goodness reign? For some leaders, it may be by trying to engage people in exciting projects, taking them from one success to another. But is our character such that people feel safe under our guidance? Knowing that they can trust us to make the right decisions? Let us do the latter without neglecting the former; it is how we may best be able to bring happiness to the people under our care.
Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 13-14