Christian Living · God's Love

How important is my happiness?

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“I needed to be happy, so I ____________________.”

How many different ways do people fill in this blank?

  • “…left my spouse.”
  • “…quit my job.”
  • “…stopped going to church.”
  • “…aborted my child.”
  • “…drank my sorrows away.”
  • “…took some “me” time”

How would you fill in the blank?

Or, would you even say this at all?

There may come a time when we quit our job because it has become destructive to our health, spiritual life, or families. There may be a season in which you are so physically and mentally depleted that you do need a little time alone to refresh. There might be some sin-issue within a congregation that requires you to move on to a new one.

Making dramatic life changes simply to pursue “happiness” is, however, quite another matter.

I watched a video this past week in which a woman talked about feeling trapped within her “perfect life” (perfect job, perfect husband, etc.,). She kept “curating this painting” (her expression) while feeling utterly sad. Near the end of the video, she said, “I needed to be happy, so I broke free of the painting—I left my husband and my ‘perfect’ life—and found a beautiful masterpiece underneath.”

I wish I could tell you that she left it all to follow Christ, or that she was motivated by some higher calling, or perhaps escaped an abusive relationship. Unfortunately, the sole motivator was her “happiness.” I wonder how long her new-found happiness will last.

Soldiers do not enter battle to be happy. The apostles did not gain personal pleasure or prosperity in preaching the gospel, but were stoned, sawn in two, beaten, imprisoned, and exiled. In fact, many of the people we admire throughout history rarely gained “happiness” in their efforts to make the world a better place.

Humanity’s endless pursuit of happiness stems from an overinflated sense of self-importance. We make ourselves the ultimate “I AM” instead of worshipping the true “I AM” (God). We fashion ourselves into gods that must be happy—or else—and end up tossing away true joy. This isn’t limited to modern-day self-idolization. The desire to serve self goes all the way back to the garden of Eden.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…

Genesis 3.4-6, ESV

Satan sold Eve a lie. Adam and Eve had already been made in the image (likeness) of God. Unfortunately, Eve fell into Satan’s scheme in order to please herself. We have been enduring the consequences of that particular “pursuit of happiness” ever since.

When people choose to make themselves into “gods”—gods who must be satisfied, admired, and adored—they fail to realize that there may be other self-made gods running around. Sometimes these little gods get married to each other and discover that their spouse wants to be their greater god in that relationship. At other times, these wannabe deities rage at others who fail to “make them happy,” unaware that they have crossed swords with another wannabe deity. Rather than finding ourselves in a paradise of happy people, we are caught in the clash of the titans. Marriages become furious battlefields, substance abuse runs rampant, and innocent victims get caught in the crossfire.

In fact, many of our modern political clashes are a direct result of people pursuing what they believe will make them happy:

  • People wanting to engage in homosexuality are enraged when someone dares to call it sin. As a result, LGBTQ+ activists are doing everything they can—passing legislation to legitimize their behavior, suing people who refuse to glorify their choice—in order to keep their “happy train” running.
  • Women who don’t want the burden of a child (because the child will potentially hamper their opportunities, financial security, aka happiness) have pushed to legalize abortion to the point that they are now allowed to legally kill full-term babies. Anyone who dares speak against such laws are bigoted, narrow-minded, buzz-killers.
  • The pursuit of socialism is motivated by covetousness: “You have the wealth that I want and that is unfair. In order for me to be happy, I’m going to force you to give me what you have.”

While there is nothing inherently wrong with being “happy,” it should not be a main motivator. The quest for happiness frequently tramples the needs of others underfoot.

When our spouse makes us “unhappy” because they have cancer, suffer mental illness, or are laid-off from their job, what do we do? Do we leave them? Or, do we respond with a servant’s heart, tending their wounds and helping them through the struggle?

When we suffer loss, do we unleash our anger on people attempting to help us, simply because they uttered the wrong words at the wrong moment or didn’t effectively soothe our pain? Or, do we exercise a little self-control and forgive them for their careless words?

If we pursue happiness and worship self, we will choose what satisfies us no matter who is wounded in the process.

Instead of seeking almighty happiness, we ought to seek Almighty God. As God’s adopted child, we have an inner fountain of joy completely independent of external circumstance. The joy of the Lord is something we share with others when we love others the way He loves us—and the fountain never runs dry! God loved us even when we worshipped ourself. He loved us even when we were selfish, unkind, and cruel. Jesus loved us enough to endure torture and death in order that we might have eternal life. Nobody on earth has ever loved us as deeply or as patiently as God and Jesus. Being loved so deeply should give us lasting joy.

Happiness is temporary; joy is eternal. I am not a god; I serve Jehovah God. Pursuing God is far more important than pursing happiness.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 5.22-26, ESV


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27 thoughts on “How important is my happiness?

  1. Hi. Thank ypu fpr sharing this here. This is the kind of post which makes you not only think but ask ypurself questions. I am not sure if I know how to fill the blank, but I know I am definitely going to try and find out.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I know it’s popular to bash socialism in the US, but perhaps more revelant in the American context would be to question capitalism. If socialism is built on covetousness, isn’t capitalism built on greed? You cannot serve both God and Mammon!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I was just pointing out socialism because it has gained more popularity within the last decade and I don’t think many who promote it are aware of its failings. Capitalism, as you accurately mention, is often built on greed. The Progressive Era of the early 20th century was an effort to curb the cruel excesses of capitalism and was largely successful in tempering those issues. I am thankful to live in a country that tries to find a balance, but we are definitely not perfect.

      As humans we often take things to the extreme in the pursuit of wealth and power. No earthly system of government has proven immune from corruption or extremes…

      And yes, Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters, or he will hate the one and love the other.” Poor people and Rich people can be equally guilty in their love of money…

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I don’t think anyone who truly understands capitalism would ever say it’s built on virtue. I don’t think that was ever the argument. The reason free-market capitalism is a superior system to socialism – the reason it gets better results – is because it recognizes that while the producer is greedy, the consumer is too.

      Free-market capitalism allows self-interested consumers to establish the market and pick the winners and losers, leaving producers accountable to the people. Consumers in a free market will not patronize bad producers purely out of the charity of their heart but based on their quality, and the government will not interfere. Don’t create a good product or service? You lose your business. Don’t charge fair prices? You lose your business. Don’t like it? Quit complaining and improve.

      In that way, free markets create a nice self-policing effect. It’s literally human nature turned against itself. That’s its genius – taking the corruption of mankind and spreading it out amongst as many people as possible.

      Socialism, by contrast, makes government the sole producer and then forgets that the producer is greedy. It concentrates power in the hands of a few. I think it’s self-evident where such a system will end up, and history has not disagreed.

      Hope that was coherent.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, but I think you’ve confused Socialism with Communism… I suppose with communism and capitalism it’s survival of the fittest- the state or the capitalists. Socialism says “from each according to their ability to each according to their need” which is more in line with love of neighbour than greed or covetousness.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. On the surface, yes. But that mantra forgets that it’s being spoken by a government with all the power. Then the government turns around and decides both ability and need, often wrongly and always to its own interest, without any accountability to the people it’s serving. That’s how tyranny starts. And people are never properly cared for under tyranny.

        The only environment in which Christian charity can survive is a capitalist one. That seems paradoxical, but it’s the only system that correctly acknowledges the self-interest of government.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Was the Roman Empire capitalist? Built on slavery certainly. But see how Christianity is declining in the capitalist West and thriving in places like China. The gospel transcends capitalism, socialism and communism. The answer isn’t money or what we do with it, but treasures in heaven, with Christ, the only treasure really worth speaking about. Politics may divide, but Christ unites His people in worship of Him, whatever their political persuasion. After all, His original followers included a (former) tax collector and a Zealot!

        Liked by 3 people

      4. I don’t disagree with any of your individual points here, but I don’t see how any of them connect to your original question, which was which system was more compatible with Christianity, so I was addressing that.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I don’t think greed or covetousness are more or less compatible with Christianity. But if you look in the early chapters of Acts, the early church seems to practice more of a form of Christian, voluntary socialism than capitalism.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. That’s definitely true and it works on a smaller scale, because there’s accountability within a church (or another church to go to). But if you’re talking about a national economic system, you want something that will corral human nature on a large scale.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. That’s an excellent and thorough comparison Brandon. Econ has never been my strong suit, but like you, I see that history supports the statement that free market capitalism has a higher success rate.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post for a happy Friday . Because God loves me, he saved me from myself over 35 years ago. And then the first things He showed me were 1, I am not God, 2, happiness is subjective but joy is eternal, and 3, Joy is His gift to us. Since then I have practiced to never underestimate these truths. Be blessed, and keep praying it forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a very thought proving post. There is a big difference between happiness and joy, just as you’ve said. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that when we are low on happiness — our focus may be too SELF centered and less OTHERS centered.

    There is much trouble in our society today. Permanent choices for temporary situations. It’s not easy to stay the course of faith when the going gets really tough but God makes it worth it.

    Thank you sis for sharing this beautiful post! All my love to you & yours! ❤ Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Holly! I love what you mentioned about permanent choices for temporary situations. Unfortunately that happens far too often.

      Have a beautiful weekend, and thank you for your thoughtful and encouraging comment. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Good post! Staying with the one you love, and being committed to your marriage, is pure joy, even during the difficult times, whereas happiness is fleeting, it can easily lead us astray, and I see that it never seems to find a resting place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right, particularly about never finding a resting place when we chase happiness around. Thank you so much for your great comment. Have a wonderful weekend! 😊

      Like

  6. Reblogged this on Brandon J. Adams and commented:
    This is an amazing article.

    I am convinced that God cares about our happiness. Really.

    But I am also convinced that we can’t truly be happy until we are holy and connected to God. Our definitions of happiness are what’s flawed. If we simply trust God’s definitions instead – and that’s difficult – then we will find it, and only then.

    Liked by 1 person

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