You might be thinking that this title sounds familiar, and you’d be right. A while back, I wrote a post called “The Top 5 Lies Christians Believe,” and among them was the lie that Christians think happiness is a guarantee of following Christ.
I’ve had enough people write me and disagree with me on this particular point that I thought I should address it in its own post.
I’ll be honest, I don’t like this idea-the idea that happiness is not necessarily guaranteed to us believers. I don’t like thinking that God is more concerned with my holiness than my happiness or more concerned with His glory than my good times.
But when I look at the Word and when I listen to the Holy Spirit, I have never been left with the feeling that my happiness is important. That doesn’t mean our happiness is irrelevant to God, but rather less important that we tend to think.
For starters, the word “happiness” in today’s culture holds a vastly different meaning than the type of happiness that the Bible describes. As Americans, we are the worst at believing that happiness is and should be a by-product, of well, life…
…and especially the Christian life.
However, the common understanding of happiness today is based upon external and outside influences. We relate happiness to events, things, places, or people. A new job, a new car, a trip to Hawaii, or our spouse. While these things can and do bring us some level of happiness, it is not the same type of emotion that the Bible describes.
The Bible more accurately describes people whom are happy, not because of stuff or circumstances, but because of the Lord.
Psalm 68:3, for instance, says “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”
It is the righteous here who are happy. It is those who are rejoicing in the Lord who find gladness.
Remember Paul, too? Didn’t he write that whole “I’m content in all circumstances” bit while he was in jail?!
Call it contentment, joy, or what have you. Either way, it is quite different from the limited and circumstantial type of happiness many of us are used to.
Yet, all of this begs the question: Does God want us to be happy?