A Joyful Disposition Regardless of Life's Circumstances.

The next section of Ecclesiastes that we will study is chapters 3-5. First, we look at the summary at the end of the section, Ecclesiastes 5:18-20. Notice the multiple synonyms Solomon uses: rejoice, enjoy, and gladness. Those who are walking with God will be known for their joy. Those who are not walking with God will be known for grumpiness.

Formal research and informal observation show that young people have left the church because of the disposition of its leaders. Good doctrine and good practice have to go together. Good doctrine without relationship easily becomes ungracious and stern.

It's not hard to trace a doctrine of joy in the Bible. Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus endured the cross "for the joy set before Him." James 1:2 instructs us to have joy in trials. Philippians 4:4 and verses throughout the book reminds us that Gospel partnership should be characterized by joy. Our joyful God is looking for His children to have the same disposition. (See also Galatians 5:16, 22-26 and Ephesians 5:19.)

Both everyday tasks and the toughest trials are to be endured with joy. This often requires wrestling our own thoughts and emotions. We must do so interdependently, helping each other maintain a disposition of joy. We live in an angry, divided culture and hear often about injustice, oppression, abuse, and the misuse of money and power. Regardless of what we hear about or personally endure, God's grace is capable to bring us joy.

Our culture is also filled with many kinds of immorality. Solomon directs our focus to that which is morally good, as does Philippians 4:8. In His grace, God has ordained every human being to know, experience, and own some good things (Matthew 5:45, Romans 2:4). Eating, drinking, and whatever labor we find to do are fitting gifts from God. Solomon chose to enjoy these things because they are moral and beautiful.

God has given us eternal and earthly practical benefits, not least of all His beautiful presence (Psalm 50:2). An author described as follows: "God Himself is the absence of anything lacking." He is the epitome of everything joyful, true, good, and beautiful. The gladness of God can only occupy our hearts in proportion to how much we know about God. We must be occupied with understanding Him more than with fixing what is bad in our lives. Then we will be able to recognize the good things He has given to us.

On Father's Day, we should emphasize that fathers must lead their families in expressing thankfulness. This is a fruit of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Each day is a gift and full of good things from God (James 1:17). Joy is objectively practiced before it is subjectively felt.

Application Points

  • Have you endured abuse? God can help you rise above with joy.

  • Are you disgruntled with your financial state? Are you angry or jealous that others have more than you and misuse it? God's grace is capable to bring you joy.

  • Without Christ, it's impossible to wrestle our minds to a place of joy regardless of our circumstances. Gladness of heart depends on knowing more about God. How can you be more occupied with His goodness and beauty? Study what makes God glad so the same can occupy your heart.

  • Take time to enjoy the fruit of your labor. Contemplate what is good and beautiful. Practice thankfulness for God's good gifts. Fathers, how can you lead your family in expressing thankfulness?

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: "O God My Joy"

O God, my joy, You reign above
In radiant splendor and beauty.
Your Word has drawn my heart to love
The awesome sight of Your glory.
Your blazing light and gospel grace
Shine brightly from my Savior’s face.
No other wonder would I see
Than Christ enthroned in His glory!

Sustained by joy in trial and pain,
I trust Your wisdom and mercy.
Through suff'ring that Your love ordains,
More like Your Son You will make me.
For Christ embraced the cross of shame,
Beholding glorious joys to come.
O give me faith like His to see
That suff’ring lifts me to glory!

Compelled by joy, I fight the sin
That turns my gaze from Your glory.
Your Holy Spirit dwells within;
His presence arms me for vict’ry.
Let death and hell against me rise;
Through death I'll gain eternal joys.
All pow'rs of hell will bend the knee
Before my great King of glory!