Where happiness actually comes from; Greg Laurie; Published March 3, 2023
Practically everyone is searching for happiness. It's even our Declaration of Independence, which says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
But what is this happiness that we're pursuing? Some think that if only they could have money or fame, then they would be happy.
But the Bible gives a completely different view of happiness. According to the Scriptures, true happiness is never something that we should seek directly. Rather, it always results from seeking something else. When we're trying to be happy, when we're trying to be fulfilled, we rarely are.
On the other hand, when we forget about searching for happiness and instead get back to the very purpose for which God put us on earth, then suddenly we'll find the wonderful byproduct of happiness popping up in our lives. When we seek holiness, we will find happiness. When we hunger for righteousness, we will become happy people.
As we walk in harmony with God, our will aligns with his, and the rest of our lives find their proper balance. The Bible says, "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!" (Psalm 144:15 NKJV)
We will find what we're looking for not by seeking it, in and of itself, but by seeking God. We find life and happiness by seeking him. It's a matter of realigning our priorities.
In a series of classic statements known as the Beatitudes, Jesus went to the heart of the matter. First, he pointed out why we are unhappy, and then he essentially told us how to be happy.
Too often we are looking for a quick fix, an easy answer. Yet God effectively says, "I'm going to get to the heart of the issue. I'm going to tell you why you are unhappy, and when you get this fixed, then you will start finding happiness in your life."
Part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes are interconnected. Jesus didn't throw them out in a haphazard manner. Rather, he delivered them with a definite progression. He began, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3 NKJV).
The word "blessed" that Jesus used in the original language could be translated "happy." In addition, the word "poor" describes a destitute person, someone who completely depends on others for help.
Jesus wasn't addressing our economic situation, however. He was dealing with our spiritual condition. Therefore, Jesus was saying, "Blessed, or happy, is the person who recognizes their spiritual poverty apart from God."
Happy are those who see themselves as they really are in God's sight: lost, hopeless and helpless. Apart from Jesus Christ, everyone is spiritually destitute, regardless of our education, accomplishments, or even our religious knowledge.
Every person is spiritually destitute before God and unable to help themselves. Some people have a difficult time admitting this. It's hard for us to acknowledge that we need to reach out to God and that we need his forgiveness. We don't want to admit that we need help.
But if we want to be happy, then we have to humble ourselves and admit our need.
Next, Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (verse 4 NKJV). Or, to put it another way, "Happy are the unhappy." According to the Bible, before we can be truly happy, we must first be unhappy.
Our unhappiness is a result of seeing ourselves for what we really are. We are seeing our true condition in the light of God's truth, and we realize that we're spiritually destitute and in desperate need. Therefore, it causes us to be sorry. We mourn over it. We grieve over it. And we see our own helplessness.
The apostle Paul, after assessing his own spiritual condition on one occasion, said, "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" (Romans 7:24 NLT). Paul saw himself for who he really was. He was in need of help, in need of change, and he mourned over it.
He continued, "Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord" (verse 25 NLT).
Godly sorrow produces repentance. This means that if you're really sorry for your sin, then you won't just mourn about it. You will do something about it. Specifically, you will repent of it. You will turn from it.
When we see our spiritual condition, reach out to God and ask for His forgiveness, Jesus said that we will be comforted. The Bible says, "Oh what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight" (Romans 4:7 NLT).
Initially, this happiness comes through pain, but ultimately it brings the greatest happiness of all. Thus, our sorrow leads to joy. Without that sorrow, however, there is no joy.
God is offering us true happiness. It is not contingent on how much we have; it's contingent on whom we know. But if we don't get our lives properly aligned with God, we always will be chasing an elusive dream, like a dog chasing his tail. We never will quite have happiness.
But when we come into a relationship with God, he will bring happiness to us, and we'll be able to say, like the apostle Paul, "I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need" (Philippians 4:11–12 NKJV).
Paul found his contentment, his fulfillment and his happiness in his relationship with God.
In the same way, when we align our lives with God and start seeking him, then we will find the purpose and happiness that we're seeking in life.