“joyfulness and gladness of heart…”

Photo. Nelson family farm, Oakland, NE, by Sr. Blick, Nov 2011

In Moses’s speech to the Israelites before they crossed the Jordan River to possess the promised land, he reminds them that curses will come upon them for disobedience.

But what does disobedience look like?

“Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things”… Deuteronomy 28:47

Moses warns that having riches in the land and the abundance of things could cause them to just outwardly obey some of God’s laws but not passionately follow after him from the heart! God is not after heartless obedience – he wants joyful, glad hearts running after him! This glorifies his great name AND is the joy that our hearts long for.

Loving things will cause our hearts to grow cold to God. Loving God will cause our hearts to be further inflamed for him through enjoying his things he blesses us with!

We know how this story ends. Israel DOES fall under the curse of what Moses warns due to their not running after God in joyful delight. They loose the land and become slaves of other nations as Moses prophecies.

But what about us? Do we follow hard after God with this joyful delight? If we are honest, maybe we answer with a yes and no. Yes, in that we can cry out to God with the psalmist to cause our hearts to love God’s law. He writes,

I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart! Psalm 119:32

This is a great prayer for us. We also know that Ezekiel 36 is fulfilled with the coming of Christ, in that, followers of Christ are given hearts that WANT TO AND LONG TO obey God!

On the other hand, we know that the answer for us also is NO, in that we do not run after God with an enlarged heart. We do not always follow him with joyfulness and gladness of heart.

But the good news is that once there was One who perfectly ran after God, obeying all his will and wishes, and he did so with absolute perfect joyfulness and gladness of heart like Moses commanded. Where Israel failed and where we fail, Jesus Christ perfectly succeeded. He is not only our example but our savior! We cannot perfectly do this, so in our defeat, we can run to the savior who forgives us AND has done this joyful following perfectly on our behalf! This causes us to overflow with thankful hearts and not be stuck in a “give up / try harder” cycle of trying to follow joyfully to get God.

In Christ we have God. Rest in him, rest in his work, rest in all that God is for us in Christ, and live overflow lives of joyful, glad-hearted obedience from a heart made enlarged for Him!


  1. I bless the Lord for the insight that God want us to serve Him with
    joyful, cheerful hearts. This is a sacrifice that truly delights Him and
    the Holy Trinity, bringing Glory to God. We thus Worship the Lord in
    truth and in the Spirit.

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