Does God Want Me to Be Happy?

Today, man’s core belief is that happiness is life’s ultimate goal, something that has driven many to ignore helpful scriptural and pastoral warnings. For instance, someone could warn a fellow Christian that their lifestyle choices do not reflect orthodox Christian theology, only to be told in response, “Well, that’s the way you understand Scripture, but everyone has their own beliefs. I believe that God wants me to be happy.” The errant pursuit of happiness becomes a shield keeping the sword of God’s word from penetrating the heart. But would God really want us to be happy even as we walk in rebellion against him? 

Be Happy in God

Scripture teaches us to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4). God wants us to realize that in his presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). We are to find such joy in God that even the harshest of trials and persecution would not devastate us (Matthew 5:11-12, James 1:2-4). Peter wrote to persecuted Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, exhorting them to bless the Lord who caused them to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus (1 Peter 1:1-3, 6). The Apostle Paul, while in prison, stated that all of his personal gains–and even joys–he considered as loss compared to the greatness of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:4-8).

It pleases God when we rejoice in him always. This means God actually wants us to be happy always. But, the joy I find as a Christian is in who God is and what he has done for me. Christians are to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, to the point that it would almost seem like they hate their closest kin and even their very own lives (Matthew 10:37-39). The happiness Christians find in who God is and what he has done for us is much different from the person who opts to ignore scripture in order to hold onto their worldly sources of happiness. 

True Christians find joy and happiness in God because he is glorious (Psalm 24:7-8, 19:11, 1 Chronicles 29:11). God’s glory is overwhelming (Exodus 19:18, Deuteronomy 5:24-25, Isaiah 6:1-4, 1 Kings 8:11). Being near the glory of God leads to repentance (Isaiah 6:1-4); even falling down in worship (Ezekiel 1:26-28). Angels, according to Isaiah 6:1-4, spend their lives worshipping this glorious God because nothing is higher or greater than him (Psalm 113:4-9). Unlike the unbelieving, believers see the glory of God in Jesus and are captivated by it (2 Corinthians 4:4, John 1:14). Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). The fullness of deity dwells in him (Colossians 2:9). When we are born again, we see the glory of God through spiritual eyes in his face (2 Corinthians 4:6). We who believe have seen the most glorious thing in the universe in God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Due to this, we ought to always be happy in God, even though things in this world may not always go our way. 

Finding happiness and joy in who God is and what he has done for us is worship. Worship also involves giving God the glory for our salvation, being grateful for all he’s done, and proclaiming that he is greater than all other gods (Psalm 95:1-3). God is our Creator; we are the sheep of his hand, the people of his pasture (Psalm 95:6-7). So, we worship him (Psalm 95:1) for having drawn us to himself and softening our hardened hearts (Psalm 95:8-11). This is why the greatest commandment, the essential way to worship, is to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Matthew 22:37). Anything less is idolatry.

Modern-day Idolatry

Idolatry is about creating gods of our own making(Exodus 20:3-6). Idolatry also involves worshipping gods other than the one true God, as revealed in Scripture. In the Old Testament, Israel committed this sin over and over again (Exodus 32:1-4, Judges 2:11-13, 1 Kings 12:25-33, Isaiah 42:17, Malachi 2:10-16). Back then, they made their idols with their hands and worshipped them (Exodus 32:1-4). In modern times, we don’t make actual idols per se, but we sure do have idols. Our kind of idolatry is in worshipping ourselves or other things that we love more than we love God. 

When we love other self-serving things, worship manifests as the pursuit of personal fulfilment, and every biblical confrontation of this false worship becomes unwelcome. In this kind of worship, the God of the Bible becomes only a part of the worship, provided he does not hinder personal happiness. 

Sadly, idolatry, in all its flair, is prevalent in our world today. You will commonly hear it in phrases like “God would want me to be happy”, used in defence of sinful lifestyles. Sure, God wants us to be happy, but not at the ruin of our souls. Even as we pursue happiness, we must ensure that at the center of our worship is only God alone. Seeking happiness anywhere else is futile. Therefore, if guilty of this sin, repent and humbly seek forgiveness from God. There in lies your forever happiness.

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