A Merry Heart

I have often heard that laughter and a positive outlook has not only emotional and spiritual benefits; it actually produces physical benefits. Proverbs 17:22 tells us that, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Okay, that’s all well and good, but how do we keep a cheerful (merry) heart when life isn’t necessarily full of external cheer? Here are a few ideas I had when meditating on Proverbs 17:22 this morning.


First and foremost, a merry heart is a gift of the Lord and one He will grant if we earnestly seek it. Joy is not dependent on outside influences. It is generated internally as a response to God. But here are some “jump-starters” to a merry heart:


– Forgive those who have wronged you. Anger and resentment kills joy faster than almost anything else. Forgiveness frees you to love and to be joyful again. Resentment and hatred have no place in a Christian’s life and practically speaking they hurt you more than the person who wronged you ever did. What if they hurt you again? Jesus told Peter to forgive “seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22)


– Do something for someone else. Be a blessing to them, and you will be blessed in return. I’m not talking about prosperity theology here, and I am not talking about financial blessings. I’m just saying that blessing someone else brings joy to your own heart. Luke 6:38 says “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Isaiah 58:10 promises “and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” And Proverbs 11:25 goes on to say “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Perhaps the best evidence is when you, yourself do something selfless for another and experience the joy it brings.


– The third suggestion for a merry heart is perhaps a little whimsical, but try it and see what you find. Sing! Sing praises to God. Sing about His creation. Sing about love. Sing about friends and family and days gone by. Even the secular world understands the value of music, and the best music FOR you is FROM you. If you are shy, sing in the car or in the woods or in the shower, but sing. Psalm 126:2 tells us “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” And Psalm 98:4-6 commands us: 4Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the Lord, the King.


So forgive, bless others, and sing for joy. See that a merry heart indeed does good like a medicine.


In Him,