What makes you happy?
If we examine our Declaration of Independence, the opening lines say:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Look around you at the radio, TV, newspaper, magazine, billboard, and internet advertisements. All of the commercials are attempts to sell us some ‘thing’ or some ‘idea’.
And they scream at us that buying their product or service will MAKE US HAPPY.
If we believe the hype, then we’ll spend money, lots of it in our pursuit of happiness. Sadly, lots of money and time are wasted in the pursuit of happiness.
Perhaps we’ve forgotten ‘what’ makes us happy. Therefore, take a few moments and think the past things in your life, what made you happy?
If you consider everything, Happiness is more about ‘who’ than ‘what’.
A ‘what’ will make us happy—for a short time. A ‘what’ always leads to a ‘what else’.
That happiness wears off, and makes us hunger for another happy moment, and another, and another, and still another. We are ever reaching for happiness, but never achieving it.
If an aging ‘thing’ (a what) doesn’t bring us happiness, then we were never happy in the first place.
Things (stuff) never bring us true happiness. Not ever.
Happiness is always based upon a relationship with someone.
An attribute that every happy person has, is ‘peace.’ On the inside, they’re fine. Happy people have inward peace and contentment.
They are at peace with themselves. – They are at peace with other people.
They are not churning inside, or struggling with themselves or anyone else. They’re content.
Happy people are also at peace with God. There is NO conflict.
Happiness is a choice. You or I choose to be happy with ourselves, or others, or God.
Anything that undermines your peace, ultimately undermines your happiness.
That means we also choose to NOT be happy with ourselves, or others, or God.
Keep in mind, people don’t make you unhappy. You choose to be unhappy.
You could have chosen to ignore, shrug your shoulders, laugh at it, or something else. In our Christian life, our freewill revolves around what we choose, and how we respond to things, events, or words that come our way. We choose how to react. So, unhappiness is a choice.
In the Bible, someone asked Jesus what is the most important commandment.
What was the Lord’s answer? Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37 NIV.
What’s the most important commandment about?
Peace with God. Wow.
Then Jesus gives the second greatest commandment. Others.
Wow again. Peace with God, Peace with Others, and Peace with Yourself.
To Love God. Means Peace with God.
To Love your neighbor. Means Peace with others.
To Love yourself. Means Peace with yourself.
That sounds like ‘peace’ should make us happy.
Peace is happiness. And that is at the core of who we should be.
You are I are on a ‘happiness’ quest.
God actually provides the way to happiness.
To resist God means to resist happiness.
If you or I were to talk about our greatest regret in life, if we were to tell the story about something that happened when we had our greatest shame, I’m pretty certain that you broke your peace. In other words, you abandoned your peace with yourself, with others, or with God.
By messing with your peace, it made you unhappy.
Our happiness is more about a ‘who’ than a ‘what.’
Let’s change gears for a minute and talk about sin.
A definition of sin is falling short of what ever standards you hold.
Sin separates. Sin ALWAYS separates.
Sin separates you from others. It begins to erode that peace between you and that other person.
When sin interjects into a relationship, it begins to erode happiness.
Sin separates us from God.
When you sin against another person, you sin against God. Because… When you sin against another person, you sin against someone whom God loves.
You cannot be okay with God while not okay with someone God loves.
Sin separates you from yourself.
Sin separates because it substitutes things like pleasure for fulfillment, stuff, people, images.
Sin cannot be your friend, because at the end of the day it undermines your happiness.
It kills peace.
It kills relationships.
Sin kills your happiness.
James 1:15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Sin separates, substitutes, and destroys. Sin kills happiness.
Each of us are born with the capacity for happiness.
This capacity of happiness is more under your control than you may have ever imagined.
Quest for Happiness
– Augustine (354-430) said, “Everyman, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy.”
– Blaise Pascal wore, “All men seek happiness. This is without exception!”
– An entertainer said: “You ask me if I’m happy? Listen: I’ve bought myself a Rolls Royce. I’m part of the biggest band in the world, and I’m about to live in a luxurious mansion. Am I happy with that? No—I want more.”
– Jack Higgins, a successful author, was asked what he knew now that he wished he’d known earlier in life, he said, “I wish I had known that when you get to the top, there is nothing there.”
– C. S. Lewis wrote, “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”
Happiness always involves a ‘who’ or ‘two’.
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus combats one of the biggest myths that relates to happiness, that rich people are happy people. Also, poor people are not happy.
Happy people are those who are poor in spirit.
Poor in spirit means that no matter how much you have, you are completely dependent upon God every single minute of every single day.
People who embrace their daily dependence on God regardless of what they have. They are dependent on their Heavenly Father.
The moment you put your trust in riches (stuff, education, opportunities, what you own, borrowed for, where you live, where you drive, all the stuff we use to build our self-esteem around) The moment we transfer our trust from Him to our riches, we become unhappy.
Here is why. Because suddenly it is up to you to control outcomes. That’s the problem you (and I) can’t control outcomes.
Happy people are not the ones who are confident in stuff, but in the One who provides stuff.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
These are people who do not run and hide from the bad things in the world. They are emotionally connected and are fully aware that there are unjust things all around them.
They also accept that ‘death’ is part of life.
In our culture, we are sanitized over death. If there is a funeral, we want to get in, and get out, and back to whatever we were doing. Don’t want to think about it.
Funeral homes make the deceased ‘beautiful’.
The fear of dying will rob you of the joy of living.
Fear of death will rob you of the joy of life. Fear of the reality that all of our lives are bookended. We spend so much time about trying to not think about the inevitable. Happy are those who are faced with the fact that this life comes to an end.
- Blessed are the meek.
We tend to think of meekness as weakness.
Meekness is a proper estimation or valuation of oneself within the broader context of God’s creation and love.
That person recognizes that they are part of God’s world, but they are not the center of it.
Meekness can be explained as ‘strength under control’.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Happy are those who are committed to doing the right thing.
Happy are those with no guilt, no regret, and a clear conscience. (1Tim. 1:5?)
Happy are those who are committed to doing the right thing even when it costs them.
Doing the wrong thing does not bring about happiness. Your greatest regret is always when you did the ‘wrong’ thing. Our greatest regret is when we know the difference between right and wrong, but we chose the wrong.
Sin, always, always focuses on ‘self’. There is no exception.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Happy are the relationally generous. Happy are those who don’t give to others what they deserve relationally. Happy are those who don’t seek revenge. Happy are those who don’t hold grudges. Happy are those who put away bitterness. Happy are those who are not waiting to be paid back from someone in their past.
Have you ever met a happy person who was bitter?
Have you ever met a happy person who holds a grudge?
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
The idea of moral purity is so foreign. In our culture, the word ‘pure’ is used mainly with water. It is not something anyone talks about.
The clarity you want in life, if found in moral purity.
Ethical purity. The decision to purify your mind.
Purity leads to clarity.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Do you know of any happy troublemakers?
Troublemakers are troubled by other people’s happiness. They are troubled by happy people.
Troublemakers like to target happy people because they want everybody to be unhappy like they are unhappy.
Happy are the reconcilers.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happiness and persecuted do not go together.
You (all of us) are going to suffer in this life for doing right, or for doing wrong.
But you can be happy only on one side, on one choice. You can’t be happy on the other.
You can be happy for doing right and are persecuted because at the end of the day you can have peace with yourself, and you can have peace with God. If what you do is wrong, your peace is ripped away.
Happy are those who choose to do righteousness even when it costs them.
Happiness is an outcome.
Happiness is a result.
Happiness is about something now, that leads to something later.
Happiness is more about ultimate than immediate.
Sin is only concerned about the immediate.
We sow and reap our way into happiness.
How many of us sadly say that we have sowed and reaped our way to unhappiness?