Friday, October 03, 2014

The Pathway to Happiness

People are not happy today. Despite the fact that we are richer, with a higher standard of living, than any other people in history, suicide is a very real problem in society, especially among teenagers. Alcohol continues to serve as the numbing agent of choice for people trying to escape reality. The number of people suffering from depression continues to escalate. Many are unhappy with themselves and unhappy with the world. Nevertheless, they keep trying to discover the way to happiness but inevitably choose the same worn path of failure they have trodden many times before. People are unhappy for many reasons, but they usually occur because they have taken bad advice and refused good advice, because they are not getting everything they think they deserve, or because they believe people treat them unfairly. They then attempt to remedy these problems through an artificial happiness, which treats the symptoms rather than the disease. They tend to turn to friends who know little, the advice of secular humanists received in college or in literature, or to “self-reliance” (Jer. 10:23). They complain and begin an endless search for someone to “value” (by which we should understand “validate”) their abilities. Finally, they feel sorry for themselves and seek the sympathy of others. These people fail in their quest because they are searching for happiness in all the wrong places. God has provided the pathway to happiness in life within the treasure trove of scripture and has given the basic principles within the opening psalm.
First, the psalmist notes that happiness depends on accepting the right counsel. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psa. 1:1-2). The first lesson that people often need to learn is whose advice to ignore, and at the top of that list should be those who disregard God. You should not listen to a thief’s view on getting money, a philanderer’s advice on marriage, or a liar’s recommendations for filling out a job application. The moment you get comfortable with them and their way of life, you have stepped away from the best advice available. Rather than listening to those who are part of the problem in life, open yourself up to God’s counsel (1 Pet. 2:2). When we make spiritual wisdom and knowledge a priority and meditate upon God’s Word, we find the best advice for every aspect of life and avoid numerous problems that beset the stubborn sinner. So long as you are making the wrong kind of decisions, happiness will elude you, and to make the right decisions requires heeding God’s Word.
Second, the psalmist tells us that happiness depends on trusting God completely. “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psa. 1:3). When we know God, we will trust Him to bless us (Mat. 6:33). Therefore, we will cease turning to the things of the world for happiness and instead turn to the Creator of all things. Only by doing this, will we be able to enjoy God’s blessings as God’s blessings. Instead, we often treat blessings as the way things are supposed to be and fail to appreciate them, which in turn affects our attitude toward life. Try for a moment to comprehend the full extent of God’s blessings both physically (Jas. 1:17) and spiritually (Eph. 1:3). Perhaps then, you will realize how much having the proper perspective toward life and toward God contributes to your happiness in life.
Third, the psalmist says that happiness depends upon committing yourself to God’s judgment. “The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psa. 1:4-6). My friends, as long as you are looking for the approval of men, you will not find happiness. However, when you become Christ’s bondservant and seek to please Him, you will find not only happiness but a contentment that transcends circumstance (Gal. 1:10). When you turn to God, you have a Judge whose standard never wavers (Jho. 12:48), who judges according to truth rather than appearance and with complete fairness in every way (Jho. 17:17; Acts 10:34-35). He will reward righteous behavior regardless of what others might do. Moreover, He will judge others’ actions, including those against us, and punish them accordingly (2 The. 1:7-9). Therefore, when we have the right priorities; spiritual priorities; we can be happy in this life as we look with hope to the promise of eternal life (Tit. 1:2).
True happiness lies within your reach. Happiness comes from trusting God’s counsel, trusting His provision, and trusting His judgment. Therefore, you can be truly happy if you really want to do so. Unfortunately, we do not tend to heed the psalmist’s inspired point of view, we settle for an artificial happiness based in materialism. However, imagine approaching every day as a blessing from God, not worrying about what others might do or whether food will be there. Imagine having confidence through a study of God’s Word that He will care for you beyond measure. For by doing so, you can live each day dedicated to Him and place yourself, your life, your family, and all that you have in His hands for safe keeping. This is the pathway to happiness, and this is the message of Psalm 1.

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