OK, so we have a desire to fill our lives with something. That is actually a craving for God. Yet, people try to fill this void with all sorts of things. Some pursue “happiness”, which has come to mean many things. Same with fulfillment. However, a God-oriented person will understand that “fulfillment” is doing the will of God and that it is our duty to carry out His will in our lives. All of these things have been distorted to seeking self-gratification. A Christian life, on the other hand, is supposed to be outward looking. Unfortunately, too often the secular view of “It’s my life” has seeped into modern Christian thought. It isn’t your life, really. It was given to you by God, and it can be taken away by God. A Christian must be willing to even sacrifice their bodies if necessary in doing the will of God. Many a martyr can attest to that.
So, does this mean these things are wrong? No, to call these things wrong in and of themselves is, to again use the analogy of an alcoholic, to say that drinking is wrong because some will distort the use of alcohol. Using alcohol in excess and to the detriment of the drinker and those around him/her is wrong. Pursuing pleasure, happiness and fulfillment in this life as the highest goal is just as wrong. Notice they are centered on “me”. Notice they are centered on the here and now. Instead, we should be centered upon the One Who gave us this life and all of its wonders. This physical life is just a means to an end.
Jesus tells us plainly what we should be pursuing.
31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:31-33, King James Version)
Notice that God will provide for us, but our physical needs should not be our top priority. If we have our priorities correct, then God will add those things to our lives. Is that all He will add? No!
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (Galatians 5:22-24, King James Version)
Not only are we to not pursue our fleshly lusts, but they are to be “crucified”! Many will justify sin by saying, “It makes me happy.” That’s a short-sighted view of things, to say the least. You won’t be able to enjoy those things after the Lake of Fire. It also assumes that God does not desire us to have any happiness now or ever.
The odd thing is, what is required for happiness? For fulfillment? What is in the list of the Fruits of the Spirit that isn’t a necessary ingredient for lasting happiness or lasting fulfillment?
Could it be that the “pursuit of happiness” is just a ploy? Could it be a counterfeit?
Satan will counterfeit God’s seal of the Holy Spirit in the end times with a mark of his own. Satan has counterfeit sabbaths and holy days. Satan has a counterfeit gospel, even. Do we really think he would stop there?
Speaking of counterfeit gospel, isn’t the modern “prosperity gospel” just a spin off of the pursuit of happiness agenda? I have more to say about that in this Sunday’s Reflections.
What similar attitude can exist in times of trial, whereas happiness could not?
2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (James 1:2, King James Version)
11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:11, King James Version)
11Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; (Colossians 1:11, King James Version)
13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:13, King James Version)
16Rejoice evermore. (1 Thessalonians 5:16, King James Version)
24Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: (Colossians 1:24, King James Version)
Do we see the picture yet?
You see, happiness is something that comes to us through various venues. It is outside of us, and thus somewhat out of our control.
Joy and rejoicing, on the other hand, is a choice. We rejoice at weddings. We rejoice at a birth. Some even choose to rejoice at a funeral and call it a “wake” instead. God commands us to rejoice at His feasts. It is a choice.
If we choose it often enough, it becomes part of our character. And, isn’t that the point? To build Godly character?