No matter the season, we hear about happiness. Nobody likes to be sad, lonely or wanting; nor do we like to see others unhappy.
Some of the phrases I’ve been hearing lately are:
I just want to be happy.
I deserve to be happy
You deserve to be happy
Do whatever it takes to be happy
Somehow the word “happy” wasn’t found in the vocabulary of Jesus.
“Blessed”, for sure. Jesus talked about folks being blessed. Some people substitute the word happy for blessed. Yet, when one looks at the way Jesus used this word, He wasn’t talking about personal happiness. He spent an entire sermon on those beatitudes. You can find that sermon in Matthew 5-7. Jesus specifically spoke about the beatitudes in chapter 5.
Way back before the time of Christ, the man hailed as the wisest man who ever lived said this about happiness. It’s found in Proverbs 3:13: Happy [is] the man [that] findeth wisdom, and the man [that] getteth understanding.
Those beatitudes (from the heart of Jesus) and that wisdom (from the wisest man who ever lived) say absolutely nothing about our possessions, status, belonging, money, or people.
It is all about being who we should be and we do that by finding wisdom and understanding. It’s not dependent on others or outside circumstances. It’s dependent on us.
Laughter and happiness are delightful things to enjoy. Yet true happiness only comes when our focus is not on ourselves.
When it comes to the things that matter most, happiness is not on that list, not your happiness and not mine. Imagine that.
What?! No happiness?!
Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather laugh than cry. I enjoy being happy and I delight in the laughter of others. Yet, when it comes to following Jesus, happiness is one of the lowest things on the list.
Instead of seeking happiness, we ought to pursue holiness.
Why? It is what God asks of us.
Our holiness is more important to Jesus than our happiness.
Over and over, we are cautioned to be holy. Why? Because God is holy.
Again and again, we are commanded to be holy because He is holy.
If we are serious about loving and serving Jesus, we need to be serious about being holy, not because I said so, but because HE did.
This doesn’t mean we can’t be happy. It really means we’ll be truly happy!
So then – what does it mean to be holy?
There’s a measure by which we can determine for ourselves what is holy. If we really want to pursue holiness instead of happiness, we can do it. There is a Thermometer.
I call it the Holy A-List.
- Actions – the way we act when we are around others. Do our actions tell others that we reverence His holiness – and that holiness is most important of all?
- Activities – the places we go for entertainment and fun. Do the places we frequent and the things in which we participate tell others that we truly believe God is holy?
- Affections – the things we love, which are evident by how we spend our time and our money. Do these things tells others that God is more important than what we want or desire?
- Appetites – those things we crave. It can be anything we can see, touch, hear, taste, and handle. What appetites are we feeding? Do they show a pursuit of holiness or happiness?
- Attentions – the things that get our attention. The things that keep our attention. Those things on which we focus. To who or what do we pay the most attention? Can others see that our attention or focus is on God or on our own interests?
- Attire – the things we wear or don’t wear. Do these items tells others to notice “me” or to pay attention and respect to the holiness of God and the way I am created?
- Attitudes – those hidden thoughts that no one else can see but still show up through our actions, activities, affections, appetites, attentions, and attire. Do our attitudes commend the holiness of God or show disdain for His sovereignty?
If we really seek to pursue the holiness of God, we will find that our happiness truly overflows.