Holiness Is NOT About Happiness (part 1)

An old picture of me giving a Peace sign

While catching up with a friend one day, I’d learned news of a young lady whom we both knew. Throughout her life, men had let her down: First her dad, then boys she’d “fall in love with”, her Pastor, and maybe even God in her understanding of Him. Well, that one day, I saw on her facebook that she’s dating a woman (this is what prompted me to catch up with my friend in the first place). After giving some background info, my friend ended by saying, “If she’s happy, I don’t care.”

“If she’s happy, I don’t care.”

This may echo in the ears of those of you who grew up in the 1970s (or if you watched the ’70s documentary on the History Channel), for the whole hippie movement included “do whatever makes you happy”. And we see it all the time today, too, don’t we (rhetorical question)? People still divorce because they’re not “happy” anymore (regardless of the effects on their kids); people cheat and fall in love all the time, claiming that that person makes them “happy” (regardless of the effects on their spouse and promises they’d made to God during their wedding, or the sin they are committing); The United States Constitution even has it written in that everybody has the right to pursue happiness. And Moses even broke God’s Law and allowed people to divorce due to their hardened hearts…they were no longer “happy”–all these are examples of sinful behaviors prompted by the selfish need of being temporarily “happy”. And I say “temporarily” because “happiness” is actually just a temporary emotion that we receive when something happens for us in what we consider a good way.

So why do people do what they know is wrong for the sake of happiness? I think it may be because we do what makes us feel good. If you have a choice between being punched in the lip or kissed on the lips, which would you pick? The kiss, right? There was a prophet in the Bible who commanded somebody to punch him in the lip. When the guy refused, the prophet cursed him for not obeying a direct command for the sake of the Kingdom of God. I’m sure he didn’t want to be socked in the lip, but it was for the sake of the success of his mission, which in turn would glorify God.

Here’s an off-thought: you’ve babysat a child before, right? What do we do when they misbehave? We put them into time-out, scold them, discipline, take something away, etc., right? But they’re not happy anymore, are they? So then with children and youth, it’s not about “being happy”, but about correcting their behavior, right? So why then is it that when adults do something “wrong”, we (especially as Christians) give an opinion, let it go, and often even decide to be happy for them ourselves, “because they’re happy”? In other words, why do we discipline children and youth when they misbehave, but ignore adults when they misbehave, especially when they sin? (Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-8 for Paul’s response to this).

As Christians, we are called by God Himself to live a holy life…different from others in the world. Jesus said that to be His disciple, we must first deny ourselves. Doing so often means to deny what we would normally do to make ourselves “happy”, and to instead do what would Glorify God (and this will increase our JOY). I continue to hear marriage counselors on the radio claim that selfishness (self-centeredness) is one of the leading causes for divorce. Isn’t that interesting? Because it is also what causes us to separate ourselves from obedience to God. We decide that we would prefer to do something else, other than what God wants us to do, which in turn disrupts our relationship with Him. But as Christians, True Christians, we must shed our selfishness and put on the selflessness that Jesus demonstrated for uson the cross.

I have often said, “Your feelings will betray you.” Why? Because how we feel will often help decide our next action. In fact, Satan often uses our feelings to lure us into sin, for temptation is a feeling of desire, and our feelings towards our desires often decide how we will respond to them. If we feel that it will be OK (even if it really is not), then we will do it. Therefore, I say that we must never…NEVER decide on an action based on our feelings…NEVER…until we have tested the Spirit from which it came. And we can do this by asking ourselves, “How will this affect me”, “How will this affect others”, and “Will this glorify God and please Him, or will it go against God and just please me?”

Holiness is not about happiness, nor do we attain it by being selfish. Holiness is about doing what is pleasing to God, regardless of what we would prefer to do instead. But God makes us do these things not only so that He will be glorified, but also so that our joy may increase in our relationship with Him.

1 Comment

  1. Jeremiah 17:9–“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” To know if something pleases God or goes against God, the solution is to get to know God, by spending time with Him, through a combo of prayer and reading/really thinking about what He says in His book (against our deceitful human hearts, this is a lifestyle that is most heart healthy!).

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