Does God Want Us To Be Happy?
Recently, a wife of a popular denominational preacher said the following to their local church: “I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy, . . . That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy . . .” This lady went on to say, “So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy . . .”
I was amazed at this lady’s honesty. This lady essentially admitted to a long running belief which many “believers” hold: God wants everyone to be happy. Through the years, I have heard people say, “I believe God wants me to be happy.” Therefore, if drinking alcohol makes them happy, then God is happy. If remaining in an unscriptural marriage makes them happy, then God approves of their marriage. If missing worship services to sleep longer makes a person happy, then God is smiling in heaven on that person.
The problem with this way of thinking is twofold: 1) Happiness is subjective and conditionally based upon a person’s individual desires, 2) There are no Bible passages showing a concern for our happiness which trumps all other commands and teachings. (If there is a Bible passage showing God’s greater concern with our happiness here on this earth, then please let me know.)
Although God is not directly concerned with our happiness, there are other concerns of God which, when realized within our lives, will create great happiness within our hearts. Let us give thought to a few of these concerns.
God is concerned with the salvation of our souls. This concern is the reason God sent Jesus to save the world by dying on the cross for our salvation. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus also said, “And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” (John 12:47). The apostle Peter also wrote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (2 Peter 3:9). If we submit our lives to the Lord, following His path towards the salvation of our souls, then we will be happy, we will be joyful, having hope of eternity with God in heaven.
God is concerned with our faithfulness. God desires His children to have faith in Him. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). The apostle Paul wrote to the churches throughout Galatia, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). If we are faithful to the Lord, then we will be happy, we will be joyful, knowing we are pleasing to Him.
God is concerned with our love for Him. Our heavenly Father desires our complete and total love. Jesus said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). If we truly love the Lord, then we should rejoice in our love for Him who sent His Son to die for our sins.
God is concerned with our obedience. Our happiness cannot take precedence over our obedience to the Lord. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). Jesus also said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Knowing we are faithfully obeying the Lord will yield joy and happiness within our lives because we know we are accepted and loved by Him.
While God is concerned with things greater than our happiness here are on this earth, we, as His children are to rejoice in Him. The apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Such rejoicing in the Lord does not come from our happiness here on earth, but by us living our lives by faith in God. We can find true happiness and joy if, and only if, we are living our lives in faithful obedience to the Lord.