There is a great deal of time and effort spent by many people today looking for happiness. This is a search that will take you down many roads. If happiness through the love of a companion is what you want there are a number of dating services and self help books to guide your path. If happiness through great wealth is what you’re after, work hard and make wise decisions and this can be your reality. The list of things that can bring happiness goes on for miles. As mentioned in the first example it is not limited to worldly goods. The search for happiness can start with good intentions. The question is; is happiness of any kind what we really need
Happiness is defined as a state of well being and contentment: a pleasurable or satisfying experience. While this is a noble goal to have, for a Christian it falls short of what is promised to us. Happiness deals with feelings and momentary pleasure. When we seek after happiness we are losing focus on the big picture. We settle for the here and now .What looks good? What feels right? What will bring me a pleasurable or satisfying experience? What will make me happy? This type of thinking is especially dangerous for the Christian believer. As Christians we must have a long term view of our lives. Does this mean that God does not want us to be happy? Not at all! So how do we reconcile this? We must change our way of thinking.
To do this we need to return to our foundation. A strong foundation is required for a strong house that can withstand the trials of the storms of life. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians chapter 3 that our foundation is Christ. We need to determine how strong that foundation is. To do this we will turn to John Chapter 3. This is where Jesus is explaining being born again. He says that a person must be born again and likens this new birth to the natural birth. He makes the statement “That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of spirit is spirit. This lays out the basic idea of being born again. Many people believe salvation is like some sort of club you can join and drop out of whenever it’s convenient. Jesus clearly states it is a completely new being. This is the first step on our way to being “happy”.
When you become a Christian there are a number of thing that happen to you. The Bible lays out a tried and true method to help determine if this transformation has happen to you. Many people think this method hinges on works. The more works and the better those works are, the better relationship you have. Jesus warns against this in Mathew chapter 7 when he tells a group of people, who had done many great works and even performed some gifts of the Spirit in the name of Jesus, depart from me you workers of iniquity I never knew you. If we can’t rely on works or gifts to determine our salvation, then what can we look to? In the same chapter of Mathew, Jesus tells us that a tree is known by its fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Many people have tried to complicate this process, but Jesus laid it out in a simple form. Basically, if you are a Christian, then you can’t help but produce the fruits of a Christian. What are the fruits? This answer will lead us to true “happiness”.
For this search we need to turn to Galatians chapter 5. Here Paul lays out the fruits of the Spirit. It is this same Spirit that enters you at salvation. While reading these scriptures you will come across a fruit that many say is the same as happiness. This fruit is Joy. While the differences between happiness and Joy may appear small, these differences can lead a person in a completely different path.
Joy is defined as the emotion invoked by well being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one DESIRES. The key word is desires. At this point there needs to be an explanation of the difference between desire and want. To want something is to have a “feeling” of need for that object. To desire is to long or HOPE for that object. Wanting is not wrong, but if all you have is a feeling of need then happiness or momentary pleasure is all you can aspect. When you are born again the Holy Spirit enters you and gives you Joy which produces hope from within.
While happiness in the short term is given to the Christian, having the Joy that only God can give is much more beneficial. In this world happiness can and will come and go, but joy is solid and not affected by the changing circumstances. To have joy is to have hope, and in this world of ever changing events hope may be just what we need.
Please understand I am not a pessimist, I believe in looking at the glass half full. I just believe having joy for the one that fills the glass is more important than being happy when the glass is full and the hope from that joy may be the only thing that saves me when the glass is almost empty.
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