Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Hebrews 1:9 -- On the Oil of Gladness

"Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
Hebrew 1:9

I love this idea of the oil of gladness and how to get it.  It makes me think of the parable of the ten virgins and running out of oil.  And I do think that sometimes in life we do run out of gladness.

I think our typical perspective on happiness is that it is something that just happens to us, without any extra effort on our part.  We feel that it should just flow to us as we live.  And, perhaps, sometimes, that is true.  Every now and then there is just that divine moment of joy that fills your heart, sometimes for no reason at all. :)  Those awesome "surprise happiness" moments are rare though, and aren't something that we can depend on for our daily smile.  Everyday happiness is something that has to be learned, and chosen.  This doesn't cheapen it at all.  I think it just makes it deeper and more enduring.  Now, I'm not saying that clinical depression doesn't happen or that there aren't moments in life where we are overwhelmed with darkness and cannot immediately choose light, but I am saying that the permanent, eternal type of joy takes effort, and we can't just sit and wait for it to appear.

How do we choose gladness?  Definitely not by stressing over it and feeling like it is another thing we are failing at.  Instead, perhaps relaxing and taking time to pray and ponder is a good start.  And these verses offer the deeper, lasting answer.  We have to learn to love righteousness and hate iniquity.  Now that is tough sometimes, and it doesn't happen overnight, but it re-emphasizes that our gospel path is not only about actions but about attitude.  Following the commandments physically isn't enough.  Behavioral modification is a beginning, but it isn't where we need to end up.  As it tells us in D&C 64:34: "the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind." That's one reason why repentance is so challenging... because we not only have to stop doing whatever bad thing we have been doing, we have to also learn to not *want* to do it.  To hate the iniquity, and love righteousness.

In Mormon 9:14, talking about the resurrection, it says "he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still."  I think that is a big reminder, just like the parable of the ten virgins, that these are things that we need to do now in life. We aren't meant to suffer throughout our lives and then suddenly get blessed with joy in the afterlife. We are meant to figure it out now, and be happy here, right in this moment.  God created us to have joy, and his plan of happiness is to ensure that we learn this essential lesson.  Today, let's remember the connection between righteousness and the oil of gladness, and let us keep our lamps full of it.  Let's focus on the good things, and take the time to enjoy our lives and the people around us.  Let's do good, and be good, and love all that is good.  Let's overflow with joy instead of stress, and spread our extra happiness around, helping others learn to have it in their lives as well. :)

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