Luke 10:20 However, don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Attributed to an Indian spiritualist, Meher Baba, is the phrase that became the title of a number one hit in 1988. Don’t Worry Be Happy. Nice thought packaged in a mellow melody. However, a simple contrast of worry and happiness does little to describe the real relationship between the two.
The highs of happiness and the lows of worry are part of the same roller-coaster ride. In this passage, Christ is admonishing us to get off of it.
We spent Monday morning as a ministry team talking about the uselessness of worry. It was a great discussion, but to focus on the reasons why we worry without focusing on the reasons why we’re happy is to ignore that for every roller coaster high, there’s a low, too.
So, what makes you happy?
Realtors are happy when they sell a million dollar home. Shoppers are happy in the mall. Teens are happy when parents hand over a set of car keys. A college student is happy they graduated. And ministers? They’re happy when people are healed, delivered and saved.
Here’s the problem. What if the realtor doesn’t make the sale? What if the teen never gets the car? What if the student doesn’t graduate or the minister doesn’t see any fruit?
To find happiness in highs that are unsure or temporary is to set ourselves up for worry when we’re on the decline, or worse yet despair when we’re at the bottom. Highs are followed by lows.
After being sent out, the disciples returned happy. They had witnessed many miracles, healing the sick and casting out demons. Of all the things on earth in which to rejoice, surely this would be the most justified.
Yet, Christ told them, “Don’t.”
“Don’t rejoice that spirits submit to you…”
The Greek word for rejoice is the one from which we get “charisma”.
They had spiritual power, ministry success and probably fame. They were on a charismatic high. Charisma is not a bad thing but it’s often misdirected. In this passage, Jesus is telling us to restrain from rejoicing in power, success or fame. There will be a day when power is gone, success succumbs to failure and fame fades. Then what? Worry, depression and despair.
Rather than “Don’t Worry Be Happy” a better song title might have been “Don’t Worry About Being Happy.”
Instead, be happy in He who is unchanging and that you are secure with Him forever. Rejoice that your name is written in heaven.