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How does happiness relate to the Christian life?

By Joseph D. Meador

religion, articles, christianity

Q&A

Question:

Brother Meador, would you please comment on the topic of happiness as it relates to the Christian life.

Answer:

In every community there are those searching to find some purpose for their existence, while others are trying to reassemble the broken pieces of a once productive life. Also there are those who have found meaning and genuine happiness in their lives.

Because so many are looking for an alternative to their present style of thinking and living, there are obvious questions that come to mind: "Why do these differences exist? Why are some excited about life, while others seem cynical and cold? Is there supposed to be some meaning to my life? And, What is the pathway to the life of abundant and satisfying happiness?

The answers to these and many like questions come from a book written many thousands of years ago. The Bible, authored by the direct inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16­17) is the source book to be consulted about the great issues of life. It is the only book which fulfills its promise to lead to a great appreciation and respect for life (both physical and spiritual).

Respect for God leads to Genuine Happiness

Happiness is always the result of a greater value, that is, respect for God (Psa. 128:1­2; Prov. 28:14). Such respect leads one to obey God (Psa. 40:8; John 3:36, 13:17; Acts 2:14­47). This obedience results in true fellowship and trust in God for provision and protection (1 John 1:5­7; Prov. 16:20; Phil. 4:6­7).

Salvation Is Genuine Happiness

When one obeys the Gospel, as preached in the second chapter of Acts, it produces great peace and happiness (Acts 2:42­47; 8:38­39). This joy, produced in the lives of first­century Christians, was far more real than the temporary rush of emotional excitement, which so many want to experience. It is vain to search for happiness while thinking it to be a quick fix to bandage the wounds of guilt.

Happiness is the by­product of living in harmony with God's will. It results from a lifestyle in conformity to Christ.

To seek after happiness in any other way only causes one to confuse happiness with humanistic self­fulfillment. While the former can last into eternity, the latter leads to self­destruction.

Seeking Self Interests Prevents Genuine Happiness

The sometimes subtle, yet formidable, philosophies of humanism and hedonism (which are Satanic in origin and sinful in method) have influenced many, even in the church, to make happiness and personal satisfaction the central features of life. At times we all give in to the temptation of self­indulgence or self­gratification, whether at home, in school, on the job, or even in matters supposedly spiritual in nature. But to make such a continual habit of expectation is to ensure the destruction of spiritual character (Luke 14: 15­24).

Although we often seek to make excuses for our own selfish behavior, there can be no doubt that such is always the result of succumbing to the malady commonly known as "I" disease. Ironically, the main symptom of this disease is the tendency toward discontent and faultfinding (that is, discontent with everything that doesn't go our own way, and finding fault with everybody but oneself), 1 Peter 1:8; Rom. 12:12; Psa. 51:12; Matt. 7:1­5.

The real effect of "I" disease is that it never really leads to genuine and lasting happiness, joy, or peace. Yet, Satan, the infectious carrier of this disease (who is also the lord of deception), would love to convince as many as possible that pleasing self, as a disguised servant of Christ, even in the supposed name of religion and spirituality, will lead one to find genuine contentment with God. That is the big lie that Satan has promoted for centuries among "pious" people.

Such concourse of life leads instead to vain and empty relationships; vain and empty religion; vain and empty spirituality, and vain and empty Christianity (Mark 7:6). The devil used such tactics in the Garden of Eden, and he continues still (1 John 2:15­17).

Guidelines for Genuine Happiness

Creath Davis has observed that: Any person who makes his own happiness to be the top priority of his life will experience only frustration. Jesus clearly indicated that anyone who selfishly grasps his own life actually forfeits any chance of experiencing real life (Matt. 16:25).

He also observed that happiness is a state of being that is produced by living in harmony with God's will. As such, let us note some of the following items concerning true happiness that Davis discusses:

Happiness, according to the Psalmist and others, comes to those people who allow the living God to be Lord of their life (Psa. 144:15; Prov. 16:20).

Happiness comes only to those who learn how to relate well to others (Psa. 133:1; Matt. 19:18­19; 1 Cor. 13). It may be said that a person is as rich or as poor as the quality of his personal relationships. Without caring relationships, we remain alone and discontent. Here communication is the key. We can never assume too much in an interpersonal relationship. Such relationships must be carefully cultivated, using scriptural principles.

A person so preoccupied with his own anxiety and depression that he cannot lay aside his defensive attitude to form deep friendships or to respond to life spontaneously, will experience little or no happiness. Cold rigidity in the personality blocks the processes of growth in our spirituality.

A Christian who finds happiness in God, and thus in others, does not distort reality to fit his wishes. True happiness must be reality­based - it is not an illusion. Nor can we mold the world to fit our own expectations.

Finally, happiness comes to those who possess true wisdom (Prov. 3:13). The person who possesses true spiritual wisdom will reflect a wholesome balance in his life (Phil. 4:5­9, 12). As Creath Davis once again states:

The wise person does not give himself to peripheral issues, nor is he caught pursuing tangents (Matt. 23:23). His is a life of faith, wonder, gratitude, and hope, which produces an enthusiasm for living and opens the door for happiness.

The Christian is to live after the example of Christ. Jesus came to give us spiritual life (through our obedience to the Gospel and by our yielding our will to his will), and he came to give it more abundantly (the higher state of living that is afforded to each Christian). May each of us act upon the divine principles given in the Bible so that we might live our lives as pleasing unto God and as true examples unto our fellow man.


Published August 1997