By: Steve Wilmot
Last week we began to blow holes in a popular myth that lots of Christians and non-Christians alike believe is true. The myth is that God wants you happy.
I tried to point out last week that living by this philosophy calls a couple of things into question — God’s character and our relationship with him. If we believe that God wants us happy and we aren’t, then something must be wrong with him or our relationship with him.
I also tried to show you God has something far better for us than happiness. Over today and the next two weeks I will lay out what that is. The first may surprise you.
More than your happiness, God wants your obedience.
I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve heard people say, “I know this is wrong, but God wants me happy so ____________.”
Based on the myth that God wants us happy more than anything else, we justify doing things that we know are wrong because our happiness is paramount. As though happiness trumps obedience. It doesn’t!
It made King Saul happy to spare the best of the cattle and goats and the king of the Amalekites even though he had been ordered to destroy every man, woman, boy, girl and animal.
Was God okay with Saul’s disobedience because, after all, Saul’s happiness was what mattered most? Read what God told the prophet Samuel to tell Saul: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15.22).
Peter adds these words, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1.15).
Notice Peter doesn’t say, “But just as he who called you is happy, so be happy in all you do.” Our happiness is never the bottom line with God. He never calls us to sacrifice his standards in the name of happiness.
Here are a few common examples of sacrificing happiness for obedience:
Serving in the church. “I know that God has called me to serve, but I don’t want to do anything at church. I just want to go to church when I want to go, but I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to serve because I’ve been busy all week. When I go to church, I just want to be there. That’s what makes me happy.”
Finances. Scripture teaches us to return the tithe to God. Ten percent of what God entrusts to us belongs to him. We give it to him. But what do people say? “I’m not going to give that much money. Are you kidding me? That’s crazy. It’s my money. I worked hard for that. I’m not giving that much money to God. I’m going to do something with it that makes me happy.”
Job. Maybe you are at a job you don’t like. “I’m not happy in this job. Maybe God put me here because he wanted me here to make a difference in someone else’s life, or maybe God plans to use this job to mold my character through an uncomfortable situation, but I’m not happy. I quit.”
Marriage. “He always ignores my needs and isn’t making me happy. She keeps nagging me and isn’t making me happy. So, I quit this marriage.”
Dating. Boy meets girl. Girl smells good. Boy says, “God gave me these desires. I know the Bible says I should wait until I’m married, but we are in love and we’re going to get married anyway. Having sex will make me happy. So, I don’t care what God says. I want to be happy so I’m going to do it.”
Do you see how subtle and how dangerous this is?
Paul asks a very important question in Romans 6:1 – “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”
Paul is saying, “You know, if God’s going to forgive me anyway and I’m having fun and this makes me happy, why stop?” Ever think that way? Me, too. But he answers his own question in verse two – “By no means!”
He says, “Under no circumstances do we continue sinning because it makes us happy, and God will forgive me anyway. No! Never!”
As much as we want to believe it’s all about our happiness, it is not. Now, don’t overreact to the truth about the happiness quest. God is not a killjoy. He isn’t out to ruin everything that’s fun.
But God’s primary purpose for you is not your happiness. He wants you to trust him and obey his Word. In fact, the only way you CAN be happy is to trust God and obey his Word.
Remember the old hymn that goes, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” Time after time in Scripture, trust, and obedience lead to happiness. True happiness. Lasting happiness.
So, when it’s a choice of doing something, you know is wrong so you can be “happy” or obeying God, always choose obedience. It’s the only guaranteed way to find lasting happiness.
Steve Wilmot is a former Edgerton, Ohio area pastor who now seeks “to still bear fruit in old age” through writing. He is the author of seven books designed to assist believers to make steady progress on their spiritual journey