by Richard Mansel
A man leaves his family for another woman and says, “God wants me to be happy!” Or, the charge is uttered by someone who refuses to stop drinking or gambling. They contend that since God wants them to be happy, they should be able to continue that which brings them happiness.
Does God want us to be happy? It depends on what we mean by happy.
God does desire the best for us. Joy is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and we are encouraged to find the inexpressible joy of Christ (1 Peter 1:8). Paul leads us to find the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7; NKJV). God blesses us in ways beyond our comprehension (Matthew 6:25-34). If we will live for God, our cup will run over with blessings (Psalm 23:5). And God has promised us that if we will give to him as we have been blessed, that he “will open up the windows of heaven and pour out such blessings that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
God does want us to be happy, but what kind of happiness does he desire for us? We need to consider the following facts.
First, God hates sin so he will not condone it. In Deuteronomy 25:16, God says, “All who live unrighteously, are an abomination to the Lord your God.” The Psalmist said, “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You” (Psalm 5:4). There is not any sin in God and he hates the sight of it (1 John 1:5-7). God cannot condone sin, it is against his nature. So to say that God wants us to continue in sin so we can be happy is completely contrary to the nature of God.
Second, God’s ways are not dictated by our desires. God’s way of happiness is different than man’s ways. God said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts. Nor are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8). So will our view of happiness match his view?
We tend to want to refashion God to fit our expectations and desires. Whatever we want to do, we want God to go along with us. In essence, we try to imprison God in the structure we have built for him. We want to live however we wish and when confronted with our error we say that “God wants us to be happy!”
In God’s plan, happiness comes from holiness and not from the flesh. Paul wrote, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Hebrews 12:10 says we are to be “partakers of His holiness.” God’s grace brings far more happiness than the fickle nature of feelings. Real happiness is found in God. Destruction is found in sin.
Third, living for God requires humility. We must submit our stubborn wills to God (James 4:7; Hebrews 12:9). That is why we must be reborn because we become a new creation with new allegiances and goals (John 3:3-5). We are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
God wants us to be happy but it cannot be at the expense of righteousness and holiness. If we wish to participate in sin, we cannot claim God’s justification. On the contrary, we are in open rebellion to God and that brings God’s wrath rather than validation (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8; Acts 8:14-24).
The only answer is to be happy, God’s way. It will be far more fulfilling.
by Richard Mansel