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Should We Want Our Children To Be Happy?

As a young man, Samson chased what he thought would make him happy. After going where he probably shouldn’t have, he came home to his father and mother saying, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah.

Now get her for me as my wife” (Judges 14:2). They asked why he would go to a godless nation to find a wife. But Samson insisted, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes” (verse 3). Wanting their boy to be happy, his parents gave in.

The utter ruin and misery that followed, like one domino falling into the next, is a warning against our imagining that we and our children can be trusted to know better than God what will make us happy.

Proverbs 23:15 says, “My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad.” Notice the word too here. This verse assumes that the child’s wisdom will bring gladness to the child, as well as to the parent.

Happiness, Rooted in God, is Better Than Self-Focused “Unselfishness.”

Sometimes we get confused, thinking we’re being selfish for wanting to be happy. Jonathan Edwards said, “It is not a thing contrary to Christianity that a man should love . . . his own happiness. . . . Saints, and sinners, and all alike, love happiness, and have the same unalterable and instinctive inclination to desire and seek it.”

Jesus says: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25).

Many think that Jesus’ primary message here is the virtue of selflessness and self-sacrifice. But take another look: He calls us to lose life for His sake by appealing to our desire to find life! It’s not “selflessness” in the sense of doing what’s bad for ourselves; rather, it’s honoring and following Christ and thereby doing the best possible thing for ourselves!

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Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (www.epm.org), a nonprofit ministry dedicated to teaching principles of God’s Word and assisting the church in ministering to the unreached, unfed, unborn, uneducated, unreconciled, and unsupported people around the world. Before starting EPM in 1990, Randy served as a pastor for fourteen years. He is a New York Times best-selling author of over fifty books, including Heaven (over one million sold), The Treasure Principle (over two million sold), If God Is Good, Happiness, and the award-winning novel Safely Home. His books sold exceed ten million copies and have been translated into over seventy languages.