“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)
How many prescription medicine tag lines can you recite from memory, like “Prevagen: Remember the name,” or “Once a day Invokana?” If you’ve watched much prime time television in the past several years, you can probably quote a few slogans — or at least name a handful of prescription medications currently on the market. There seems to be a medicine for everything, and while I’m grateful for that, I’m especially thankful that the Bible prescribes a medicine that we do not have to buy: a cheerful heart. We can find the “tagline” for a cheerful heart in Proverbs 17:22: “It’s good medicine!”
When we have the “cheerful” heart described in Proverbs 17:22, it is like good medicine because this kind of heart allows room for the Holy Spirit to produce the life-giving fruit described in Galatians 5:22-23.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Gal. 5:22-23 (NIV)
But when we harbor the negative attitudes that are the opposites of the items on the list in Galatians 5:22-23 (such as anger, strife, impatience, doubt, jealousy, and selfish ambition), it’s like taking poison instead of medicine. Acting on these sinful attitudes can stunt the growth of spiritual fruit in our hearts and hurt those around us. We’ve been studying the fruit of the spirit at my church, and through this study I’m coming to realize that the fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 consists of the godly attitudes that originate and reside in the heart. When we fill our hearts with negative attitudes, we leave little room for the positive fruit to remain.
The heart is so important because it is the very center of our being – our soul – and that’s why we are told in Proverbs 4:23 to guard our heart. Can you say today that you have a cheerful heart? Circumstances can sometimes get the best of us, but the joy that God offers is not determined by our circumstances, but rather by what we believe and in whom we have placed our ultimate hope. When we place that hope in Christ, we can maintain a joyful heart regardless of the tough times we happen to be facing. The heart filled with hope is the very thing that pulls us through (Proverbs 18:14).
The hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” was written after the composer’s daughters were drowned at sea after their ship sank. Yet, even in this lowest moment, he could still say, “It is well with my soul.” He did not let his overwhelming sorrow and anxiety weigh him down (Proverbs 12:25), but instead chose to keep his focus on Jesus and allow hope and joy to begin to take root in his soul.
Whatever your circumstances today, I pray that you find joy in your heart because Jesus, your Valentine, loves you so and will never let you go. Find your comfort, peace, and joy in Christ and allow those things to settle deep within your soul. When you do, your cheerful heart will make room for beautiful fruit like peace and love to grow. A cheerful heart is good medicine!