Be of Good Cheer

Every church has them: the mopey-faced Christians who come into church on Sunday morning with a face so droopy that if the corners of their mouths dropped any lower they would be vacuuming the carpet as they walk. I call them “Eeyore Christians” (after the always-negative Winnie the Pooh character).

They sit in the pews, sometimes with arms crossed, with a “bless me if you can” attitude. Why is it that so many Christians are grumpy? With so much to be thankful for, why are Christians negative? Why do they show up to church with faces so severe that the unsaved can't wait to get out the door and flee the premises?

There is no power of God in a bad attitude. It indicates a massive spiritual void and lack of maturity in Christ. If we can't be happy in the house of God, with God's people, then there is a deep-rooted, spiritual problem.

“Well, if things would just go better for me ...” The difficult times are when our character is most tested. They are the times when what is on our inside is most likely to come to the outside. If things went better for a while, it might help you hide the problem, but the problem would still be there and it would come out again the next time things didn't go your way.”

“Well, if I were in another church, it would be all better!” Sorry, that won't help either. The problem is with you, not the church. It's a heart problem. The problem will follow you and go with you wherever you go. You might be able to suppress it for a few weeks in a different environment while you are trying to impress new people, but because the problem is a “you problem,” it will come back. You can't run from it. You've got to deal with it, and fix it.

Unhappy Christians don't just hurt themselves with their attitudes. They run off unsaved people and newly saved people as well. After all, when someone sees that stern “bless me if you can” face in church, they are not going to say “hey, I want some of that. Jesus, please save me so I can be like that!” Young Christians are not going to look at the bad attitudes and constant negativity and say, “When I grow up and mature as a Christian, I want to be just like that!”

Your grumpiness and negativity make you a stumbling block to others.

Ultimately, grumpiness and negativity are very selfish and self-centered attitudes, indicating that the person is far from God at the moment. Someone who comes to church with that kind of attitude every week is not much more than a baby Christian themselves and is in need of significant spiritual growth.

At the very least, we should be happy because God tells us to be happy. We have so much about which to be happy. As Christians, our reasons to smile are nearly endless, but God touches on some important ones in the Bible.

Matthew 9:2 says, “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.”

Be happy, says Jesus. Why? Because our sins have been forgiven.

That one reason alone should have us jumping in the aisles and shouting “glory!” Our sins – all of them – are forgiven. Wiped away. Gone forever.

Think about it. For the Christian, all of the bad things we have done in our life, all of the offenses against God and people, all of those things which would keep us out of Heaven and send us to Hell, all of them are forgiven!

Isn't that exciting? The next time we are tempted to feel sorry for ourselves and indulge in a bad mood, we need to think of this. “Be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

The excitement does not stop there. We have many other reasons to be happy.

Matthew 14:27 says, “But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”

The setting for this verse is the disciples sailing across the Sea of Galilee during the middle of the night. They see a figure coming at them across the water, actually walking on the water, and their hearts are struck with fear. What kind of evil spirit is it? Is it a ghost?

Jesus is that figure. He cries out to them, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”

Even during the dark times of our life, even when we are afraid, Jesus is there with us. We are never alone. That is something to rejoice over! That is a reason to smile, even when things don't seem to be going our way, even when we have had a bad week.

We have friends in this world. However, as we grow older, we discover that we have many fewer friends than we once thought. Most “friends” are in the relationship for what they can get out of it, not because they really care about us. They pontificate, “I will always be there for you,” “I've got your back,” “I'm your best friend,” but when the challenges come, most of them run. Many of them actually join the rest of the world in kicking you while you are down. True friends are very rare and hard to find.

But, there is “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” He is that friend who will always be there for you and with you, no matter what you are going through. “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” He says.

If we are saved, then we have Jesus with us no matter how dark the day. We are never alone in this world. We have someone to stand by our side and help us through every problem.

“Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” We have something to be happy about!

Acts 23:11 says, “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

Paul was detained by the Romans, after being dragged out of the temple and beat up by the Jews. The trip to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover had turned into a nightmare. It was a dark time for Paul. He didn't know if he would live to see another day. Perhaps the Romans would kill him to be rid of him. Perhaps the Jews would assassinate him.

But God said to be happy! Why? Because He has a plan for Paul to minister for Him in Rome.

God has a plan for you. No matter how dark your world looks right now, no matter what is going on, no matter what the circumstances are, He has not given up on you and He has a wonderful plan for your future.

We can be happy about that! God wants good things for us. Be happy!

John 16:33 says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Jesus said that we will have hard times in this world. There will be tribulation and persecution. Nobody lives a storybook life.

But, we don't have to let this life and it's difficulties get us down. We don't have to wear a perpetual frown. There is no reason to be unhappy. Why? Because Jesus says, “I have overcome the world.” Jesus is greater than this world. He is far greater even than the demons and devil himself who dominate this world. Remember, “Greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world.” (I John 4:4).

God is above the mess of this world. Everything and everyone bows to his will. Nothing happens in your life without his approval.

We have nothing to be afraid of. Sin may be powerful. Evil people may be strong. Governments and wicked powers may be mighty. But, God is greater than them all. We are on the winning side! Our God has more might and power in His little finger than all of the forces of evil have combined on their best day.

That is something to be happy about. “Be of good cheer,” Jesus says.

The next time you are tempted to be grumpy, thing on these things. Jesus wants you happy.

The next time you drag into church wearing a frown and carrying a “you couldn't bless me if you tried” attitude on your shoulders, think on these things. That frown and attitude are the opposite of what Jesus wants for you.

Be happy. Let Christ work in your heart to bring you closer to Him. Think on all of these things that you have to be happy about. Don't continue in sin and displeasing God. Don't continue to run people off from church with your attitude. Don't continue to be a stumbling block to young Christians. Get it right today before anymore damage is done to you or to others.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” [Philippians 4:8]

Think on the good things. Don't dwell on the negative anymore.

Christ wants you to “be of good cheer.” Be happy!

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