Church of God, New World Ministries

Bible Q & A

Q. I had always believed it was better to be happy than to be downcast and gloomy. But Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 says “Sorrow is better than laughter. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” What is wrong with laughter? Does God want us to be sad?
 
A. Let’s understand! There is no scripture that says it’s wrong to be happy. One of the proofs of a Christian life is joy, brimful and running over (Gal. 5:22).

Ecclesiastes 7:3 does not say laughter is wrong. It merely says that sorrow is better than this kind of laughter! The context of the passage in Ecclesiastes shows us what kind of laughter is wrong.

“It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of a fool; this also is vanity” (Eccl. 7:5-6).

That kind of foolish laughter is wrong!  Christ came to give us abundant life, joyful happiness, filled with the right kind of laughter (John 10:10). That is life filled to the brim –but in the right balance. Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11).

Yet this same Jesus also said, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).

God wants us to laugh and enjoy life, but at the same time to take life seriously. It takes both laughter and sorrow to make the whole man. That is, right kind of sorrow.

There is a wrong kind of sorrow just as there is a wrong kind of laughter. The wrong kind of sorrow is what prevails in the world today. This world’s sorrow leads to frustration and anxiety, and often results in suicide!

II Cor. 7:10 says the sorrow of the world works death! But “godly sorrow works repentance to salvation.” This godly sorrow is better than laughter and mirth because it brings the right results.

“Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better” (Eccl. 7:3). Godly sorrow leads to a change of heart!

The sorrow of the world brings discouragement and a feeling of hopelessness. Godly sorrow strengthens your will, your determination to overcome the problems that beset you. You were meant to enjoy a truly balanced, abundant life.
 
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