Joy Instead of Happiness

            In the Declaration of Independence it is written, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” At first glance, happiness seems like a lofty goal, but happiness is rooted in our emotions. Thus, it is fleeting and temporary. However, having joy is greater than happiness because its foundation can be found in God—our eternal Creator. Joy is an indescribable peace and satisfaction that fills our souls because we know that we are being eternally sustained by a being much greater than ourselves.

The devil promotes happiness because it sways the heart toward pursuing momentary desires instead of God. (James 1:13-15)  He uses lies to trick us into thinking we can be like God, or that obedience to God means sacrificing our happiness. Since we are beings living in a physical world, God’s blessings will include things that make us happy. He knows what we need to be physically sustained. (Matt. 6:8) Yet, God is the only thing that can everlastingly sustain us. Jesus admits this when He tells the devil in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The author of Ecclesiastes at first struggled to find the difference between a life lived by happiness and joy. We know this because in Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 he wrote, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” Toward the end of the book the author notes that he turned toward God because after he chased every pleasure under the sun he learned that pleasure is vain.

Pursuing happiness is like a person who decides to only eat pasta. Is it delicious? Yes. Can it be done? Yes. Will it provide all the nutrients that your body needs to be healthy and live long? No! The author makes this point as he concludes the book of Ecclesiastes saying, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter; Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

We will all have to meet our maker in the end. Therefore, will we choose to acknowledge Him now—while there’s still time—or will we wait till it’s too late to repent of our actions? We all have the choice to decide if we will live according to our fleeting moments or the all-powerful God. If we spread His loving light and abide in Him, His Holy Spirit will produce in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23) Everyone has the freedom to choose joy over happiness. To choose loving God and others over loving self. Declare your Independence from sin by proclaiming your God today!