By Dwight King
The wise man said, “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live” (Eccl. 3:12). This wise saying has turned out to be more than just wisdom; it is also unmistakable prophecy. Other biblical words of prophecy became evident recently.
“We now have empirical evidence of it,” he said. Pollster George Gallup was quoted by a newspaper: The Argus of Fremont, California, Gallup was speaking of two of his most recent polls of the American public. Gallup Polls have been known and respected for accuracy since the first Gallup poll was made in 1935. The combined results of the two polls on Americans and their religion are reported to have an ac-curacy to within a possible two to three percentage points.
Gallup goes on to say, “The evidence overwhelmingly points to their being truly better and happier. Two recent Gallup Polls found out that the most committed 13 per-cent of believers are the happiest, most charitable, tolerant, ethical and concerned for a better society. In contrast,” he said, “the typical `churched’ (the other 87 percent of church-goers or pew-sitters) and `unchurched’ don’t differ greatly, except the `churched’ tend to have a brighter outlook and be more active in civic affairs (such as children’s school activities, community betterment, little league, girl scouts, boy scouts, etc.).”
“The two polls discovered that about 42 percent of the population attend a religious service each week. This study of the `breadth’ of religion in America indicated that about 105 million people attend church and the interest in religion is rising. The `depth’ study, on prayer, conduct and attitudes in relation to strength of belief, findings were that the most genuinely devout were the happiest and most helpful to others.
“Those with this strong, transforming faith (the 13 per-cent most committed) were found to be more ethical in personal dealings, more tolerant of persons with different backgrounds, more apt to perform charitable acts, more concerned about the betterment of society and far happier. On the other hand, he said, the study showed that the further people are down the scale of religious commitment, the less happy they are, less ethical, less generous, less socially concerned and less tolerant.”
Also, noting a “general assumption that the more religious that people are, the more close-minded and bigoted they are,” he said, “we found just the opposite. This is an extremely important finding. In contrast to the distinguishing qualities of the highly committed,” he said, “comparisons between ordinary religious members and non-members showed little ethical difference in such matters as lying, tax evasion and pilfering.”
We have always known there were those who love the world (1 Jn. 2:15) and had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess. 2:12). We have heard that sin is pleasurable and enjoyable (Heb. 11:25). Faring sumptuously and receiving good things (Lk. 16:19-31) seems to convey such a happy state that many are minded to be rich (2 Tim. 6:9). Worship of the devil is professed by Satan himself to extend to the worshipper great power over kingdoms of the world (Matt. 4:8,9). Preeminence in the church is even today sometimes sought by misguided brethren. It must be an exhilarating and thrilling sensation to have such a high ecclesiastical position in the church by those who would use wicked words and cast brethren out of the church (3 Jn. 9,10). Nevertheless, the scientific Gallup Poll declares the most faithful of religious people are the happiest of all. True science scores again in upholding what the Bible, God’s revelation, reported so long ago!
“Happy art thou, 0 Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord” (Deut. 33:29). This Old Testament passage speaks of Israel. The statement is just as true today of church members God’s spiritual Israel, “who is like unto thee, 0 people saved b y the Lord. Happy is that people, … yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord” (Psa. 144:15).
“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding . . . and happy is every one that retaineth her” (Prov. 3:13,18). “He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he” (Prov. 16:20). Wisdom has been described as vision to do what is right at the time. Jim Bowie of The Alamo fame is reported to have said, “Find out what is right and then do it.”
Bowie’s admonition demonstrates that vision or wisdom hinges upon knowledge. The wise man of Proverbs agrees and hence the prophecy: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Prov. 29:18). The Apostle John reported the sayings and doings of Jesus and then said, “7f ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (Jn. 13:17). This happiness comes when we are not only hearers of the word but also doers of the word (Jas. 1:22).
Paul, before the King remarked: “I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews” (Acts 26:2). Yes, happiness for the Christian comes when, like Paul, he has sanctified Christ as Lord in his heart and is able “to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15).
Paul was on trial for his life before Agrippa and we too may sometimes face grave consequences because of our strong faith. “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” (1 Pet. 3:14). “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (1 Pct. 4:14). Anytime we are mindful to be discouraged and dismayed because of oppression brought on by our vigorous faith let us allow our minds to be filled with those exceeding and great promises given by our God who cannot lie that if we are faithful unto the end we shall overcome. “Oh, happy day, that fixed my choice, on thee my Saviour and my God.” In this condition, walking in the “footsteps of Jesus,” I’ll truly “sing and be happy today!”
Others are benefited by our complete commitment to Christ. Look now at what Gallup found; “Digging into deeper levels of religion, pollster George H. Gallup, Jr. has found some striking evidence that faith is good for you and for others with whom you deal. But the benefits, he says, “seem to show up clearly only when faith is strong.” Gallup came by his information as he scientifically subdued the earth (Gen. 1:28). Gallup polled; but the wise man was inspired as he spoke for God in the following: “He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he” (Prov. 14:21).
Durability and tenacity of faith are indispensable to the great happiness to be gained by being an altogether committed Christian. “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (Jas. 5:11). Pray that you endure as a 100 percent Christian, committed to the Lord that you may be the happiest of all people in the world.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 10, p. 12-13
May 20, 1993