["FRIVOLOUS FELLOWSHIP" - A Worksheet]
TO BE MERRY/CHEERFUL
This study contains mostly examples, rather than commands and
principles. It is best used not by itself, but in connection with the
other studies found in this series about "frivolity."
The New Testament Greek words examined in this study can be
translated by several English words. After each occurrence, the
concept will be expressed using the word "merry," or the
equivalent [in brackets]. For those interested, the N.T. Greek words
are listed at the end of the study.
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PART 1 - To Be Merry, to Be Filled with
Rejoicing and Celebration
- (a cheerfulness associated with enjoyable circumstances)
A. It can easily become sinful - especially if it characterizes one's
lifestyle, preoccupation, or focus of life. The end result is eternal
loss. Some examples:
A self-preoccupation with festivity and happiness is incompatible
with love for one's "neighbor"
- Such a lifestyle is spoken-against by Jesus (2 examples)
- Luke 12:19-20a - About the rich man who had an abundant surplus,
who built bigger storehouses for his abundance (rather than being
generous toward God). He said to himself: "You have enough goods
stored up to last many years. So take life easy! Eat! Drink! Enjoy
life [be merry]!" God said to him, "You senseless fool!
This very night your life will be taken from you! Then who will get
all those things you have stored up for yourself?"
- Luke 16:19 - About the rich man, contrasted with the poor beggar
who sat by his doorstep. He lived in luxury [had a merry life]...
until he died and woke up in a place of torment... (Read the rest of
- Many verses in Scripture associate self-sacrifice
(rather than self-preoccupation) with love for neighbor. (Compare to
Philippians 2:1-5 and 1 John 3:16-18.) "Love for neighbor"
is incompatible with self-preoccupation.
Such an attitude can be associated with opposition to truth from (or
about) God: The truth may be suppressed or ignored, or it may be
exchanged for a lie. These things are incompatible with love for God,
the source of truth. (2 examples)
- An example from history, in which it was associated with idolatry
- Acts 7:41 - The Israelites made a calf-idol, brought sacrifices
to it and held a celebration [were filled with merriment] in honor of
what they had made with their hands. (A reference to an event
mentioned in the O.T.)
- A future example, in which it will be associated with people who
hate the truth and who will kill the truth-speakers
- Rev 11:10 The people of the earth will gloat over the death of
the two prophets and will celebrate [make merry] by sending each
other gifts. (They will do this because these two prophets had
tormented them with their message about judgment.)
The two greatest obligations we have as humans are: Love for God and
what he says (= truth), and love for our neighbor (which includes
love for our enemies). The above examples show that this lifestyle is
easily associated with the violation of BOTH obligations.
B. There are appropriate times for being merry / rejoicing (though
NOT as the focus of one's life). Some examples of these times include:
During times of special blessings (examples)
- The restoration of broken relationships
- Luke 15:23-24, 29, 32 - (After the prodigal son had returned) -
Father: "Bring the fattened calf and kill it, so we can have a
feast and celebrate [be merry]! For this my son was dead but now he
is alive again. He was lost but now he is found." So they began
to celebrate [be merry]. / Older son: "All these years I've been
slaving-away for you. I've never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never
gave me even a young goat, so that my friends and I could celebrate
[make merry]." / Father: "We had to celebrate [be merry]
and rejoice, because this your brother was dead but now he is alive
again. He was lost but now he is found."
- The birth of a child, when all hope for bearing children has been lost
- Gal 4:27 - Quote from the O.T. (Isaiah 54:1): "Rejoice [make
merry], O childless, barren woman; shout (for joy), you who have not
(previously) experienced the pains of childbirth! Because the
children of the desolate woman are now more numerous than the one who
has a husband."
- In Galatians, this passage is used in part of an allegory that
illustrates the joy of salvation under the "new covenant"
When considering the blessings and future hope that are a part of salvation
- The resurrection & (because of it) able to be in God's presence
- Acts 2:26, 28 - My heart is glad; my tongue rejoices [expresses
merriment]. My body will live in hope. / You have shown me the way of
life; you will fill me with joy [merriment] in your presence. (In
this specific context, the application is to Jesus, the first to
experience the joy of raising from the dead. Ultimately all those who
belong to Jesus will be able to express this joy.)
- The fact that salvation is now available to all (not
only to the Jews)
- Romans 15:10 - Quoting Deut. 32:43: "Rejoice [be merry], O
you nations, with his people (Israel)."
When considering the coming day of justice & judgment - the time
when injustice will be forever eliminated. (These specific examples
will occur in the future.)
- Rev 12:12 - "Rejoice [be merry], you heavens and everyone
who lives there! But how horrible for you, earth and the sea -
because the devil has come down to you! He is filled with rage,
because he knows that his time is coming to an end."
- Rev 18:20 - "Rejoice [make merry] over her (= the destroyed
city of Babylon), O heaven, you saints, apostles and prophets! God
has judged the city for the way she treated you!"
When experiencing the temporal blessings of God. (Even people who do
not love God can experience some of the blessings and kindness that
come from him!)
- Acts 14:17 - God has not left himself without testimony (among
those who do not know him). He has shown kindness to you: He gives
you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. He provides you with
plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy [merriment]."
These examples show that there are proper times for being
cheerful/happy. We do not need to be "extreme" and avoid
it, just because it can be bad/sinful when taken to excess.
C. Our attitude/conduct can affect the joy/gladness others have (or
don't have) - AN ILLUSTRATION:
2 Cor 2:2 - For if I cause you to be grieved, who is left to make me
glad [merry]? Only you, whom I have grieved! [If they refused to deal
with the sin that was present among them, he would be forced to do it
- and that would leave them grieved, rather than filled with joy. In
this case, - if he had to bring grief to them - it would influence
their ability to bring joy to him.]
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PART 2 - To be cheerful, encouraged
- (a cheerfulness associated with encouragement)
When the joy of encouragement is present, the appropriate response is
to be filled with praise to God, who makes it possible.
- James 5:13 Are any of you having troubles? Pray! Is anyone happy [cheerful/encouraged]?
Sing songs of praise!
- Note: This verse also shows us that this attitude is only ONE of
the possible circumstances that may exist in life. As Eccles. 3:4
says, there is...
- A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
- A time to mourn, and a time to dance (etc.).
The joy of encouragement can exist during times of hardship and
difficult circumstances. Two examples:
- Acts 27:22, 25, 36 Paul to the people on the ship: "I urge
you to keep up your courage [be encouraged/cheerful], because none of
you will die. Only the ship will be destroyed." / "Keep up
your courage [encouragement/cheer], men, for I trust God: it will
happen just as he told me!" / They were all encouraged and ate
- Acts 24:10 Paul, defending himself before the governor: "I
know that you have been a judge over this nation for many years. So I
will gladly [with cheer/courage] defend myself before you."
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PART 3 - The N.T. Greek words used in this study:
From PART 1:
From PART 2
Source: Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament [public domain]
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Dennis Hinks © 1999
Any Scripture quotations are my own paraphrase and do not reflect any specific translation.