Bible Study Opportunities
Happiness and Faith
By Jon W. Quinn
Many of the songs that Christians sing speak of the joy and happiness that belong to those who live by faith. We sing about Sunshine in My Soul. We encourage one another to Sing and be Happy. We sing of the day of our conversion O Happy Day and tell of our continuing joy in Christ I'm Happy Today.
Abraham Lincoln said that "Most people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be." We might also add that the opposite is also true; "Most people are about as miserable as they make their minds up to be." Most people do not seem to believe what I'm about to say, oh, they may claim they do but their actions speak louder than their words; happiness is not a set of conditions but a state of mind.
What this means is the things by which that most people are trying to make themselves happy are not the keys to happiness at all. To seek for inner peace and joy through the accumulation of things is an empty pursuit. Happiness is more a reflection on a person's healthy mental, emotional and spiritual state than his financial or material condition.
Accumulation of wealth is no guarantee of happiness. There are many , many very unhappy wealthy people. A hedonistic lifestyle where one fulfills his every lust ultimately brings to a person a lost sense of self-worth. You cannot treat others like things and not be adversely affected yourself. Fame is fleeting and fickle. All these means of pursuing happiness have serious drawbacks. They offer no lasting hope. They bring added complications to ones life. Any success is brief and limited. And yet the majority of our nation seems to have bought the lie that these things are necessary for happiness.
Disciples are told "...so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkeness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you; but they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." (I PETER 4:2-5).
The New Covenant which the Lord has given us is not designed to rob us of our joy, but to dignify, deepen and increase our joys. Our Lord Jesus offers us something much, much better than the best the world can offer. Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus told the apostles that the things which were to shortly take place would cut them deeply. They would be hurting with deep sorrow, but then their sorrow would be turned into joy. Jesus said, "Truly, truly I say unto you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for joy that a child has been brought into the world. Therefore, you too now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you." (JOHN 16:20-23).
Even today, disciples of the twentieth century have a similar mix of emotions about the whole ordeal. We are moved as we consider the death of Jesus for our sins. We are extremely sorrowful that our sins led to His suffering and death. However, we are made glad that it is so obvious that He loves us so very much, as well as the hope we possess because of His resurrection from the grave. Do you want to be happy? Consider these seven important ingredients which when added to your life will result in reaching that goal. No longer trust in externals to provide that which can only come from within.
TRUST IN GOD
"For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day." (II TIMOTHY 1:12). A disciple who develops this kind of trust is certainly a happier, more secure human being. Paul writes these words from his final earthly home, a Roman dungeon. So why is he so at peace? Because He has discovered the secret of how much more can be accomplished toward the goal of happiness by a change within as opposed to outer circumstances. He knows that all will be well despite temporary setbacks, and yes, even death is only a phase leading to eternal victory for the man or woman of faith.
DELIGHT IN THE SCRIPTURE
"...because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel..." (COLOSSIANS 1:5). The Bible itself gives competent counsel on the best way to live and how to make the proper decisions. As we follow the teachings of Scripture, we are given reason for hope and comfort even in times of sorrow. A thorough knowledge and application of Scripture enhances happiness.
"Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world..." (PHILIPPIANS 2:14,15). Its always rewarding to look on a job that you did well. A person who is able to see that his or her life is a job being done right is going to have that same sense of accomplishment. When those who are walking by faith compare their lives to the lives of others, many times it is discovered that others seem to have more to be proud of in the strictly material realm. But the righteous enjoy riches within; a living and abiding hope, and a sense of purpose that is unparalleled by anything this world has to offer.
"I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go up to the house of the Lord." (PSALM 122:1). Through worship, the Christian finds his faith grow. He finds encouragement and peace. All this serves to make him a happier person. Worship lifts up the heart of the worshipper as one expresses adoration for his or her Creator and Sustainer.
KEEP THE CONSCIENCE CLEAN
"But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." (I TIMOTHY 1:5). Some people think that they can be happier if they can destroy their conscience. If they can get to the point where they can do anything at all and not feel guilty about it. That does not really make people happier. It just makes them cold and insensitive. What a deplorable way to live! Much better to guard the conscience and continue to nurture warm, human feelings that will give our lives nobility and happiness.
"Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, of both having abundance and suffering need." (PHILIPPIANS 4:11,12). Discontent is very prevalent in our society today. Such bears little resemblance to the mind of Christ. Let the world have their discontent and anxieties if they insist; we shall enjoy the peace of God which passes understanding. God loves me, and that is enough.
"Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." (EPHESIANS 5:15,16). There are many endeavors that men and women give their lives to, some good and some not. But none are more noble than to simply dedicate one's life to the cause of the Redeemer. No messing around or trifling with life's purpose is commendable or wise. Its worth doing. Its worth doing right. It calls for diligence and persistence. After all, its all for the Lord.
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois June 7, 1992