“God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8 NLT)
Happiness is the proverbial carrot at the end of the stick which always seems just out of reach of its pursuer. Yet, happiness is not a word foreign to the Scriptures. The verse above is from a list of “Beatitudes” of Jesus, which list several ways to be “blessed” or “happy.” Things like “those who are poor, those who mourn, those who are humble, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, those who work for peace, and those who are persecuted and mocked for doing right.”
Unfortunately, the sad reality is, those aren’t typically the things people who want to be happy are seeking. That’s the irony of being a Jesus follower. For the most part we find contentment and satisfaction, not in what the world desires, but in what the Lord knows will build character in us, which ultimately gives us contentment and joy.
Even those of us who are seeking to follow the Lord as closely as possible are still eager for blessings, but, if I’m honest, in this season of my life, I’d much rather be a blessing than receive a blessing. However, some blessings come disguised as trials or troubles.
There have been times in my life and, I suspect in yours, when some of the greatest blessings, in terms of things that drew us closest to the Lord and enabled us to see His face most clearly, we’re those times we viewed Him through our tears.
Happiness, at least the type of happiness the world offers, has no appeal to me. I have all the trinkets I could ever desire. My goal now is to invest in heaven’s Treasure by being as pliable and useful in the Lord’s hands as possible. It seems on some levels the longer I serve the Lord the more clearly I see how far short I am from His likeness, and how much I need Him.
To live a holy life, separated for and to His service, is the target for which I’m aiming. Being happy isn’t on my radar, except as it results from my submission to the Lord’s authority in my life. I think more in terms of contentment, peace, and satisfaction in being God’s favored child. How do I know I’m favored?
Paul reminds us that God has NO favorites (Colossians 3:25), so that must mean we’re ALL favored as His children. Hallelujah! What a Savior! I’ve learned over the years I’ve walked with Jesus, you can’t outgive God. The more you pour yourself into the carrying out of His plans and purposes, the stronger His love and blessing seem to surround, guide, and bless you.
Corky Calhoun wrote: “I am not sure Jesus’ idea of church was to make us HAPPY, I think it was to help make us HOLY!” I believe I understand what he meant, and I totally agree, but I’ve got to tell you, I get very excited about worshipping together with godly men, women, boys, and girls. To see how powerfully God’s Spirit moves the hearts of His worshippers, moves me. Happiness may not be the best way to describe it. Probably joy comes closer.
And the irony is, the closer we get to Jesus (aka the more we grow in holiness and dependence upon Him), the more joy He pours into our lives. Perhaps John Piper said it best when he wrote: “God created me—and you—to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion—namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life.”
For me, displaying that passion begins in worship, then spills over into every area of my life. Service that honors the Lord issues from a heart bent on living a holy, set apart life, completely committed and yielded to making much of Jesus. Passionate love for Jesus is the context out of which comes our greatest delight, joy, and happiness.
Blessings, Ed 😊
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