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The Shame of Worldly Joy

Only a Christian can be joyful and wise at the same time, because all other people either rejoice about things that they should be ashamed of (Philippians 3:19) or things that will disappear. A Christian is not ashamed of his joy, because he is not joyful about something shameful. That is why the Apostle Paul in [2 Corinthians 1:12] defends his joy. He says, I don’t care if everyone knows what makes me happy, because it is the ‘testimony of my conscience.’ He means, let other people can be happy about base pleasures that they are afraid to admit; let other people rejoice in riches, fame, or popularity; they can be happy about whatever they want, but my joy is different. ‘I rejoice because of my conscience.’ A Christian has a happiness that he can stand by and prove. No one else can do that. They will feel embarrassed and guilty if their happiness is found in something that is outside of themselves. They cannot say, ‘this is what makes me happy’. But a Christian has the approval of his conscience for what makes him happy, and so he is not ashamed of it. A non-Christian does not want to show his happiness. He tries to hide it, because he knows that it comes from sinful pleasures. Where is the happiness of the greedy person? He works hard, thinks hard, and is happy to get respect, like Haman; but he also tries to hide this. He does not want anyone to know. He does not want to admit,  ‘this is what makes me happy’; because then everyone would mock him for being foolish. The happiness of the lustful person, is in his pleasure, but he does not want to admit this. He does not want to say, ‘this is what makes me happy’ because everyone would despise him as an animal. The rich person, he finds joy in his wealth, but he does not want anyone to know this, because he would then be seen as a greedy and worldly person. Everyone would hate him. He tries to enjoy all the pleasure and comfort that these things can give him, but he also tries to hide them. He does that because he knows that there is something better that he would find joy in, if he were not an atheist. 

RICHARD SIBBES

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