A vile disease has wormed its way into the hearts and minds of modern Christianity. The teaching of “God wants you to be happy” is preached from pulpits across the nation regardless of the fact this principle is not found in Scripture. I don’t find anywhere where God said to “Be happy because I am happy”. What I do find He says is to “Be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16) There is a vast difference between holiness and what we equate with happiness.
Before you get too depressed, know this: there is no joy like being obedient and faithful to Jesus Christ. Happiness is a fleeting emotion, counts for nothing, and fades as quickly as it came. Holiness lasts forever, counts for everything in the eyes of God, and is hard to shake once you’ve tasted its beauty.
A life spent in pursuit of happiness is ultimately a wasted life. The object of its obsession is you. This fact alone should be enough to convince you it is not of God. Life is to be lived with Him as the sole object of your desire and affection. Only He is worthy. A pursuit of happiness is a pursuit of idolatry. We are chasing after something other than God to bring purpose, meaning, and fulfillment to our lives. Only God can fill those desires and seeking them elsewhere only confirms you do not trust Him to be able to provide for the deepest longings of your heart.
This is a hard teaching. Who doesn’t want to be happy? Isn’t that what we’re taught to pursue from nearly the moment we begin to live? Parents only want their children to be happy. Husbands and wives try to make their spouses happy. Most people spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out what would make them happy and then spend the rest of their lives pursuing it.
God does only want what is best for His children, but what we fail to grasp is what is best for us is to walk in His ways. True happiness, the kind that never fades is not found outside the presence of God. We were created to worship and glorify Him. In the depths of our soul, it is for this we all ache. In the presence of God is peace, a sense of belonging, and the most unconditional, unequivocal, and overwhelming love you will ever experience. That sounds like happiness to me!
The irony is unless we choose holiness over happiness, we will never truly be happy. Conversely, we will never achieve the holiness God intends for our lives as long as we are chasing hard after happiness. Nothing matters other than following Jesus every step along the path of your life. We may sacrifice some comfort, security, and luxury; but this life is nothing more than a passing shadow, not even a blip compared to the expanse of eternity. Would you rather be happy for seventy-five years on this planet in exchange for possibly missing an eternity with Jesus? It’s a bad trade, one no one should make. Live for the long term. Live for Jesus. Choose holiness over happiness.