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When Your Happiness Becomes Your Joy

When Your Happiness Becomes Your Joy

   As we enter life, we begin to discover what brings us happiness. When, as infants, we received the things we needed such as mother’s milk or a blanket when we were cold, we became contented and happy. Happiness, according to one definition, is: a state of feeling or showing pleasure or contentment with one's current situation. During our time as children, our situation may change dramatically depending on various factors. Some remember what may be described as a very “happy childhood” while others in the same family may look back on those same years with disdain.
   Unfortunately, as many grow up, the desire and search for happiness may lead to paths that are less than desirable and often lead to a life of misery. These paths are taken to fulfill various ‘fleshly desires’, supposing these will produce happiness. However, the Words of Rom. 8:12-13 should help all understand the fallacy of seeking the “fleeting happiness” of the flesh to the detriment of true joy. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 
     If we ‘back up’ just a bit in the scriptures, we see in Rom. 8:5-6 where the desire for ‘happiness’ in this life only leads. At the same time, we can easily see where being ‘spiritually minded’ takes us. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 
   At this point in a discussion about happiness, many insert the question: “But doesn’t God want me to be happy?”. Of course He does, but He has provided the way for all things “wholesome” whereby we may be happy. 2Pet. 1:3 tells us this. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 
   Earlier, a definition of happiness was given, so joy must also be defined. According to a Wikipedia article, joy is: the state of being that allows one to experience feelings of intense, long-lasting happiness and satisfaction of life. This seems to fit because “if” what makes us ‘happy’ in this life leads us to eternal life, we anticipate the ‘joy’ of heaven. There are only two places that are truly “long-lasting”. One of these is heaven and the other is Hell.  Only one of these has joy.
     We may think that our time on earth is long, or long-lasting, considering all we must endure, and the fact that some folks live what is considered by many to be a long life. The Spirit had Paul contrast the ‘span’ of our time here on earth with eternity in 2Cor. 4:17. We may think that portions of our lives seem to take “forever” to pass, but Paul says they are quite brief in comparison. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  Eternal is forever, and
there will certainly be no ‘joy’ among those who are punished as described in 2Thess. 1:8-9 when the Lord returns. In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 
     Perhaps this is why Jesus, in Matt. 6:19-21, (part of the Sermon on the Mount), advised His hearers where to focus and why. He wanted them to be able to experience real joy. He said: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. One’s “heart” in this context is the mind. If our mind’s focus is on the things from the Word of God, and doing those things to be pleasing to Him, we can be extremely happy as we live our lives on this mundane sphere. Only because our time here on earth is spent ‘happily preparing’, in full accordance with His Word, can we expect to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
    When one considers the ‘plan of God’ and the joy it brings, they enjoy much happiness in following God’s Word. From the O.T. Scriptures, we see in Psa. 1:1-2 how the Spirit had the psalmist describe the attitude and the actions of one who loves God and strives to faithfully serve Him. 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. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. “Blessed” in this passage means “happy”. This same idea is conveyed in the N.T. in Rom. 7:22. Here the Spirit had Paul describe his happiness in following the ‘law of God’ even when temptations assailed him. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:  Their happiness had become their joy In both of these cases.
     Your happiness can become your joy also. If what you think makes you happy is leading you away from God and His Word, there is no real ‘joy’ in it, nor to where it leads. That ‘fleeting happiness’ ends when your life on earth ends. Look into the Holy Word of God today. Obey the gospel and become a “child of God” and remain faithful and grow in the faith. Then you can be happy here while working toward eternal joy.   Lay up for your-self “treasure” in heaven.    You won’t be disappointed.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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