Are you a happy person? You may have all the things this world tells you that you ought to have to make you happy, but still there is something missing. That is because there is a right and a wrong way to find happiness. There are two paths we can take in life. There are two foundations we can build upon.
A lot of people think the lives Christians lead are basically a drag. They see the things that people are no longer supposed to do if they are true followers of Christ. It sounds like there is no fun. It has no appeal for them at all. But they don’t understand what it is all about.
I have lived on both sides of the fence. In the first 17 years of my life, I lived without God. I pretty much sampled everything this world had to offer. Even before someone told me about Jesus, I knew the answer was not in the things I had been looking into. I knew there had to be more, and it sent me on a search in life.
Jesus told the story of a prodigal son who thought it was a pain to live at home with dad and his rules and regulations. So he approached his father and said he was ready to leave, and he wanted his portion of the inheritance.
Essentially he was saying, “I don’t want to sit around and wait for you to die. Just give me my share now. I don’t care if it inconveniences you. I want to go out and live life.”
His father gave him what he asked for. No doubt that boy went out with a spring in his step and money in his pocket. And when he hit town, he was one popular guy. Everyone wanted to hang out with him, as long as the money was there. But as soon as the money ran out, his friends ran out with it. He was left with nothing. He was so impoverished that he took a job feeding some pigs, and he was actually being tempted by what the pigs ate. He had hit rock bottom.
But then one day he came to himself and said, “At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.’” (Luke 15:17–19 NLT)
While he was making his way home, while he was still a great way off, his father saw him. He got up and ran toward his son, threw his arms around him, kissed him and embraced him, and said, “This son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.” (verse 24) Then they had a big party.
What was this son looking for in life? Apparently, it was nice clothes, fine food and parties. What did the father give to his son when he returned? Nice clothes (the father gave instructions for the finest robe to be brought out for his son), fine food (“Kill the calf we have been fattening”) and parties (“We must celebrate with a feast”).
In the same way, everything we have been looking for in life is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Of course, there are some things this world offers that can be fun for a while. They can be exciting for a while. But it is like riding a roller coaster that has missing tracks. It is a fun ride until you reach the point where the track stops and you have to pay the price. It is like skydiving without a parachute. It is a rush when you jump out of the plane – until you realize there is nothing to slow your fall.
There is a certain element of fun and enjoyment we can have in this world because even the Bible tell us there is pleasure in sin for a time (see Hebrews 11:25). But the Bible warns us that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23 NKJV)
All the world can offer are cheap imitations of the real thing. Meanwhile, the Bible tells us how to be happy. Psalm 112:1 says, “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments.”
Usually when you read the word “blessed” in the Bible, you can also translate it as “happy.” That gives it a whole new meaning. If you want to be quite literal, it would be “happy, happy.” So the psalmist is saying, “Happy, happy is the man [or woman] who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments.”
On one hand, it is saying that if you really want to be happy, live by these commandments. That goes against the assumption of many who think God’s commandments are a bore and you can’t have fun if you obey them. But as I have said before, the commandments are not bars of a cage to keep us in; they are barriers of protection to keep evil out. God gives us parameters and guidelines and absolutes for our own good to keep us out of trouble.
If you want to live a happy life, then live a holy life.
American philosopher Eric Hoffer said, “The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.”
The Bible teaches that we should never seek happiness outright. It teaches, for all practical purposes, that we should seek to be holy, and then happiness will come as a byproduct. I have found that people who always want to be happy, who are living for the party and for the rush, are very unhappy people. There is the short-lived happiness of getting a new toy, a new experience, and having a little fun. Then you realize that isn’t what you have been looking for.
Either we will live the happy and holy way, or we will live the miserable and unholy way. The choice is up to us.