By Chris WittsSunday 5 Oct 2014Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 0 minutes
Happiness is a topic that interests everyone. You can read books on the theme of happiness in bookstores everywhere. A few years ago,Psychology Today magazine asked a question of nearly 52,000 people. They were asked “What is happiness,and how do we attain it?” Some people weren’t sure. One man when asked about his happiness said,”I don’t know. I filled out the questionnaire. I think I’m happy. Can you please verify”. Others talked about the things they need to make them happy,like being in love or being attractive,or personal growth or having friends ..,things like that. Many people have the idea of what you could call the “when” and “then,” understanding of happiness. “When I finish my education,then,finally,I’ll be happy.” “When I get a good job,then I’ll be happy.” “When I make some money and get out of debt,then I’ll be happy.” “When I fall in love and get married,then I’ll be happy.” “When we have children,then I’ll be happy.” Or “When my children grow up,then I’ll be happy.” Money was frequently mentioned.
Now,a lot of people know that money can’t buy happiness,but they believe that you have to have plenty of money in order to have the things or go to the places or gain access to the experiences that do make you happy. But that’s not really the way life is. You can drive a $60,000 automobile,live in a million dollar house,and still be miserable. You can spend a blissful two hours at the Sydney opera house at a glorious concert and love it,and then walk outdoors into the cold night air and just like that,feel suddenly empty and alone. You can gaze out over a gorgeous view in the Blue Mountains and be full of sadness. You can have the perfect home,the nicest clothes,perfect children,and still not feel satisfied or fulfilled. On the other hand, you can be materially quite poor and still very happy.
Many things that occur in our everyday circumstances bring unhappiness,at least temporarily. I think we all also know full well that there are many things about natural life that we must certainly have,or that we think we just cannot live without. Material things,prestige,power,recognition,are but a few. The only problem with these things is that most of the time we never get enough of them. Or we soon tire of them,and then we “have to” have other things. We get temporary gratification,but we do not find true happiness or contentment.
It’s this desire for happiness I’m talking about. Plato says that at the end of the day that is what all human beings want: .. to be happy,in body and soul,personally and in a community. As his younger colleague Aristotle remarked in the 4th century BC,”Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,the whole aim and end of human existence.” But did you know Jesus gave happiness another name? He called it the abundant life. “I’ve come to give you life and life abundant,” he says,or as Eugene Peterson in the Message version of the Bible says “real and eternal life,more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10:10).
What would make you happiest in your life? I want to suggest to you this morning that in fact there is really only one thing that you can do in order to get the greatest happiness in your life and that is this: to totally surrender everything to God,all the time,every day,in all ways. So this is the surest way to happiness .. the total surrender of everything in your life to God,no matter what,at all times,every day. I know it’s easier said than done,but we should try. Hand everything to a loving God.
Jesus began the greatest sermon called the Sermon on the Mount, by stressing that happiness depends,not on right circumstances,but on right attitudes. It’s not what’s happening around me,but what’s happening inside me that makes me happy. Jesus knew that we’re confused about this,frankly. I think that’s probably why,at the outset of the Sermon on the Mount,he grabs our attention and repeats the word happy or blessed eight times. We have the wrong ideas about happiness. Real happiness,bliss,blessedness,comes from within. It’s inner joy,contentment.
William Barclay,the Scottish New Testament scholar,said,”Human happiness is something that’s dependent on the chances and changes of life – happenstance. Christian blessedness is completely untouchable and unassailable because it’s deep within.”
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146: 5).Jesus said in John 16 – this was a promise to those that believe – “Your heart will rejoice.” (Your heart will be happy). “Your heart will rejoice,and no one takes this joy away from you.” That’s blessedness. You see,the kind of inner happiness and joy the Lord speaks of does not happen instantaneously. It does not happen without soul searching and struggle. I am reminded of the Lord’s words,”Gather for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). This is important; for you see,we all leave behind the things of this world–not just the material things,but also things like power and prestige.
What we do take with us is who we are as a person. And who are as a person determines our inner happiness.
Being blessed,or having inner happiness,isn’t reserved for a future reward–something we will get by and by,if we are good. It is something we develop and acquire through our everyday life in this world. Good or bad,we forge for ourselves the life we desire to live for eternity; and the groundwork is done in this life.