“Live by faith; again I say, always live by it. Always rejoice through faith in the Lord! It is neglecting this exercise that allows your own low moods and Satan to interrupt your happiness and spiritual cheerfulness and to hold you in the dumps and in gloominess.
What if you have a natural inclination to melancholy? Cannot faith correct nature? Does it not have power to clear the mind of all cares, fears and griefs? Can it not exhilarate the whole man? But what good is this faith if it is not used? It is like a soldier, with a sword at his side, not drawing his weapon when he is attacked. If a discouragement overtakes, cannot your faith say to your soul, ‘Why are you disturbed? Know and consider in whom you believe.’ Would not the master rebuke the winds and the storms and bring calm to your mind again? Do not most men have something they use to counteract their discouragements, like David with his harp? Some seek refreshment in company, or wine, or tobacco. They would not go far without a supply of these! But would not the least taste of faith be far better?
Should not the wise Christian rather take in the sweet air from the precious promises of God? Keep your faith, and it will keep your joy. It will keep it in an even, ever-flowing current, without ebb and flow, clouds or eclipses, turning ever upon the hinges of heavenly and solid joy. How can it be otherwise?
Do not Christians consider how unsuitable it is for them to go about drooping and hanging the head? Is it not becoming for the righteous to rejoice? What is a Christian but one who is joyful? Does not the kingdom of heaven consist in joy? Does not heaviness drive people away while joy draws and wins? Men wonder to see a rich man, who has all his heart’s desire, in a fit of heaviness. But I wonder a thousand times more to see one that has Christ as his friend, and God as his shepherd, and knows that all must work for the best, to be any time out of tune or out of sorts. For a Nabal to be as dead as a stone is no surprise to me, but if Nehemiah’s countenance is changed, there must be some extraordinary cause.
Can you be sad when you have all possible treasures laid up in heavenly places, where moth and rust and thieves may not come? Our treasures are out of the devil’s reach, and not only for a number of years, but for ever and ever!
O vain man! Show me your faith by your joy. If you say you have faith and live a life of sadness, I will not believe you. Use your faith, and have joy; increase your faith and increase your joy.
Faith and a Mature Christian
I must now draw you a little higher. It is a small thing for you to be cheerful at an ordinary level. Your joy should exceed the happiness of those in the world both in quantity and quality. If your joy is not sweeter, and higher, and more pure, more constant than that of a carnal man, you dishonour your faith and show you are young in the kingdom of heaven, which is joy unspeakable and full of glory in the Holy Spirit. Do you not have living water flowing out of your soul? Should you that have tasted of the grapes of Canaan, pine for the onions and garlic of Egypt? Do you need to stoop to the world’s puddle to drink when you have tasted faith’s sweet fruits?
Certainly God gives us ordinary and lawful delights in the world, the wine and oil, music, recreations, etc. These God allows us to enjoy for the sake of bodily health, but not to stuff ourselves with them. We enjoy them, but we can be happy without them. We do not live for them, but live by faith.
It is sad to see a Christian pursuing joy in coarse and earthly pleasures when he has more noble and angelical delights, second only in degree and manner of enjoyment to heaven itself. Our faith takes us to the third heaven. We roll and tumble our souls in beds of roses, that is, our meditations of justification, sanctification, and salvation through Christ. No day should pass without these enjoyments. Should not our soul have her due drinks, breakfasts, meals, snacks, and desserts, as well as our body? Cannot such meditations make pleasant work of our daily tasks? They would make time pass by like a boat with full wind and tide, needing no oars. They would make all of our days like holidays and celebrations.”
—Samuel Ward, Living Faith (Banner of Truth, 2008) pp. 25-30.