This post is part of a series about prayer, happiness, and God’s plans for our lives.
Be sure to catch these other posts:
What a scene!
A beautiful young woman is on an exotic island trying to determine which of two handsome suitors she cares about the most.
Tensions are running high. Time is running out.
This young woman has to make a tough decision – and soon.
All of a sudden, the young woman breaks into tears and appears to be coming unglued.
The TV cameras push in closer to catch every emotion.
And, in that moment, she simply exclaims, “I just want to be HAPPY!”
Isn’t that what all of us want?
Isn’t that what we desire for our children and our grandchildren?
In fact, I think “being happy” may be the number one goal, desire, dream, ambition, and prayer for people everywhere.
Today, I want to pose a simple question:
Does God really want us to be happy – above all else?
Is happiness to be our chief goal, our main aim, and our life’s ambition?
Hollywood, society, culture and many Christians would say a resounding, “Yes!”
Our Culture Says: “You deserve to be happy!”
Society Says: “You’ve earned the right to be happy!”
Our Friends Say: “Whatever you decide to do, just make sure it makes you happy.”
Social Media Says: “You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a life you are excited about. Don’t let other make you forget that.” (extramadness.com)
Even Pastor’s Wives Say Interesting Things About Happiness:
“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy.” (Victoria Osteen, Lakewood Church, Houston)
All of this sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
We hear these kinds of things all the time. These thoughts and ideas are ingrained in the fabric of our society today.
However, what does the Bible say in answer to this question?
Yes, God wants us to be happy! Of course, He takes pleasure in seeing His children happy.
The Bible is filled with mentions of happiness, being happy, and having happy lives.
(See Psalm 89:15; Proverbs 15:13; Ecclesiastes 3:12, 22; Romans 12:15)
Happiness is a GREAT thing. God created it and wants us to enjoy our lives, our work, and our families.
(See Job 8:6; Psalm 113:9; Proverbs 23:25; Luke 15:32; 2 John 1:4; 3 John 1:3)
There is nothing wrong with happiness or desiring to be happy. God loves us and wants to fill our lives with happiness, joy, pleasure, and fulfillment.
But what about when… Personal happiness is what we want ABOVE ALL other things??
As much as I want “HAPPINESS” to be God’s ultimate goal for us, I find a much different “focus” in the Bible.
Happiness is mentioned in scripture, but it is not lifted up as the greatest goal and the greatest purpose in all of our living.
Consider a few verses that discuss the “CHIEF AIM” for all believers:
The Bible Says – Deny Yourself, Take Up Your Cross, & Follow Jesus.
Matthew 16:24-25 –
‘Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”’
Francis Chan –
“The world says, love yourself, grab all you can, and follow your heart. Jesus says to deny yourself, grab your cross, and follow Me.”
John MacArthur –
“The true gospel is a call to self-denial. It is not a call to self-fulfillment.”
The Bible Says – Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.
Matthew 22:36-40 –
Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Adrian Rogers –
“Christianity is a love relationship between a child of God and his Maker through the Son Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Tony Evans –
“God is the source. Everything else is just a resource.”
The Bible Says – I am crucified with Christ.
Galatians 2:20 –
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
A.W. Tozer –
“People who are crucified with Christ have three distinct marks: 1) They are facing only one direction. 2) They can never turn back. 3) They no longer have plans of their own.”
A.W. Tozer –
“A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing that it is possible to ‘accept’ Christ without forsaking the world.”
A.W. Tozer –
“God wants the whole person and He will not rest until He gets us in entirety.”
The Bible Says – Make It Your Goal to KNOW Christ.
Philippians 3:7-11 –
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…”
Charles Spurgeon –
“God has made man’s heart that nothing can ever fill it but God Himself.”
Greg Laurie –
“You were placed on this earth to know God. Everything else is secondary.”
The Bible Says – Fix Your Eyes Totally on Jesus.
Hebrews 12:2 –
“Let us look only to [keep our eyes on] Jesus, the One who began [Pioneer/Founder of; or Leader/Prince of] our faith and who makes it perfect [completes it].”
Corrie ten Boom –
“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”
A.W. Tozer –
“How satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none.”
Culture and the Bible are not exactly in sync, are they??
So what do we do?
How are we to respond to this disparity?
And, how do we discern if we think more like the culture or more like the Bible?How do we know whose philosophies we are really following - the world's or God's? Click To Tweet
May I suggest 3 Ways We Can Check Our Motives:
First – Check Your Choices.
When you make the majority of your choices, who are you considering primarily?
Check your choices:
- Are you asking God what He wants you to do?
- Are you seeking His thoughts on the matter?
- Do you get into the Bible to consider His ways?
- Do you pray over your decisions and choices?
- Do you talk about your decisions with trusted, godly friends?
- Or, do you just decide and hope God will bless your decisions?
- Do you just plow ahead and pray later?
It’s my way or it’s His way. There is usually not much middle ground.
Tim Keller –
“If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshipping an idealized version of yourself.”
Second – Check Your Posture.
For most people, there are two postures we can take toward God – fight Him or surrender to Him.
It’s very hard to do both my will and God’s at the same time. I am either surrendered to His plans or pushing forward with mine.I am either resting in God or wrestling with Him; I can't do both! Click To Tweet
So, check your posture:
- Are you yielded to God’s plans for your life?
- Are you completely surrendered to His Lordship?
- Are you still – knowing that He is God?
- Are you resting in Him and in His grace?
- Or, are you in a posture of defiance – doing things as you want to do them?
- Have you stood up and pressed forward with your own plans?
- Are you rushing, pushing, and demanding your way?
- Is your posture one of self-reliance and self-dependence?
“Because God made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”
Third – Check Your Responses.
As life twists and turns, I get to choose how I respond.
I can trust God, obey Him, and allow Him to be the Lord of my life or I can respond with frustration, doubt, and impatience.
Check your responses:
- When things don’t go my way, do I get agitated?
- When I don’t get what I want, do I get mad?
- When life throws me curveballs, do I respond like a child?
- Or, do I take my frustrations to the Lord in prayer?
- Do I try to see the bigger picture?
- Do I try to learn from the pain and the difficulties?
- Deep down – do I really believe that God knows what He is doing?
- Do I trust Him in spite of how things look and feel?
Elizabeth Elliot –
“God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.”
Trust and Obey Hymn–
Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss,
Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.
Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.
Can I boil it down to few final thoughts?
When I seek after happiness with everything in me – I come up empty.
But, when I seek Jesus Christ above all else, I find deep and abiding peace, joy, rest, and happiness.
It’s really that simple.
So, what do you think?
Has happiness become too important in our society?
Are we focusing too much on self-satisfaction and too little on Jesus?
I always enjoy hearing from you!
It’s the “happiness” topic. I started this discussion earlier in the year, and I got back so much feedback.
You may want to go back and read my earlier posts on this topic:
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