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Thankfulness: The Way to Holiness and Happiness

The Lord Jesus Christ is holy and happy and so are his students.

Holiness and happiness go together. In the Bible we read, “The disciples were full of joy and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52; see also Luke 10:21, Romans 14:17, 1 Thessalonians 1:6). Holiness without happiness is stuffy and impersonal. Happiness without holiness is shallow and temporary. But when holiness and happiness come together in a person we know that the Spirit of Christ resides in that person.

William Law says that the surest route to holiness and happiness is thankfulness to God. The value of thankfulness is proven in God’s Word and also in scientific research (see “Bible Verses on Thankfulness” and “Gratitude Research“).

William Law

William Law is one of my favorite authors. He was a spiritual teacher and writer in England during the 18th Century. He is considered a “Protestant mystic.” It’s not often that someone is described as a Protestant and a mystic, but that’s the greatness of William Law. He was an outstanding student of the Bible who actively shared Christ with others and he was a prayerful man who enjoyed a sweet intimacy with the Lord.

In 1728 William Law wrote A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life which became one of the greatest classics on devotion to Christ of all time. In it he inspires his readers to join him by finding delight in using spiritual exercises to grow in the holiness and happiness of Christ.

John Wesley is one of many great Christian leaders who credits A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life for developing in him an explicit resolve to be wholly dedicated to Christ.

How to Cultivate Holiness and Happiness

William Law’s words on thankfulness in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life have helped me so much over the years. I trust they will encourage you too:

There is no state of mind so holy, so excellent, and so truly perfect as that of thankfulness to God. Consequently, nothing is of more importance in religion than that which exercises and improves this habit of mind. The greatest saint in the world is always thankful to God, wills everything that God wills, receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness, and has a heart always ready to praise God for it. All prayer and devotion, fasting and repentance, meditation and retirement, all sacraments and ordinances are but so many means to render the soul divine. This is the perfection of all virtues…

If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness and all perfection, they must tell you to make a rule to yourself to thank and praise God in everything that happens to you. It is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God [in] it, you turn it into a blessing. If you could work miracles, therefore, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit. It heals and turns all that it touches into happiness…

The spirit of murmur and discontent will be unable to enter into the heart that is so often employed in singing the praises of God (p. 101; edited for gender neutral language).


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