How to be Happy

Being happy is what everbody wants, right? And in today's society, the emphasis is on the bottom line, right? Minimize the details and "get right to it!" Okay . . . .

The only way any of us are going to be happy is for us to walk close to God. We were created by God. God's Spirit longs after us if we aren't walking close to him, creating unhappiness. There is no deep, lasting happiness, unless we are walking close to God. That's the Big Picture and The Final Word.

Now can we look at the details? That's not my verdict, it's God's. Just seeing the "bottom line" in the paragraph above didn't make you happy if you weren't already in a good relationship with God. It only suggested what the problem was.

For a very complete description of what there is in the world--a world that tries to get along and be happy without God--see the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. It has twelve chapters and can be read in well under an hour. Solomon, the writer, wrote those words after having lived both close to God and not so close in his latter years. Solomon is proclaimed by Scripture as the wisest man who ever lived.

Not only was he the wisest, he was likely the richest, both of anyone before his time or after. In Ecclesiastes chapter 2 Solomon said he bought things -- lots of things. They didn't make him happy; in fact, just having a lot of things made the "vanity," the emptiness, the meaninglessness only worse. Ecc 5:10-11 "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes?" Hardly the words of a man who was both rich and happy.

In time, Solomon acquired 700 wives and 300 concubines (prostitutes) (see I Kings 11: 1-3). God's eternal plan was and still is "one man, one woman, for life" (Matthew 19: 7-9) and since Solomon was outside that plan, he was miserable. Was he sexless? Oh no. He describes this state of affairs as "man's delight" in Ecclesiastes 2: 8. He likely experienced every kind of sexual pleasure a man could think of, with a thousand women helping him out just in case he forgot anything. But still this did not bring him pleasure. Ecc 9:9 "Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun." He found that the greatest sexual pleasures were with one's one and only mate.

Later, he turned to academic learning, which Solomon described as "wisdom." The following passage shows that there is some gain in learning things, but just knowing a lot of facts does not give satisfaction in life. Ecc 2:12-17--" So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. Then I said in my heart, "What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?" And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind."

Solomon was at his wiset in Ecclesiastes 12: 13, near the end of his life, when he said "The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." In the time of the Old Testament in which Solomon lived, keeping the Old Law with its 305 "Thou shalts" and 308 "Thou shalt nots" was what God expected of the people at that time in order for them to walk with him. In that time, keeping "the 10 commandments" and the 603 others that followed them was the way to be happy.

We live under the New Testament (read the 6-chapter book of Galatians if you want to see the proof passages), not the Old. We do not live in a time of animal sacrifices and of keeping the Sabbath. Rather we live in a time of presenting our bodies, our lives, as living sacrifices (Romans 12: 1,2). We being that life of happines with God by hearing His word (Romans 10: 17), believing that Christ is God's Son (John 8: 24; Mark 16: 16), repenting of one's past sins (Romans 10: 9, 10; Acts 2: 38), confessing one's faith in Jesus as Lord (Matthew 10: 32, 33; Acts 8: 37), and being baptized into Christ in order to receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 2: 38; Acts 22: 16; Galatians 3: 27; I Peter 3: 21). This begins the happy life with God, but it is only the beginning. We are to continue worshipping with other Christians whenever they assemble to worship (Hebrews 10: 24, 25), partaking of the Lord's Supper (Acts 20: 7; I Corinthians 11: 20-34), and putting on the new spiritual nature (Galatians 5: 16-26) through Bible study (II Timothy 2: 15) and prayer (I Thessalonians 5: 17).

There is happiness in living close to the God who made our spirits within us (James 4: 5-8). God gives us the "peace that passes all understanding" (Philippianss 4: 7. That's the real happiness. There is truly nothing in the world that can compare to it.

[ Click on the doorway to return to the sermon index page]