August 28, 2023
How To Have a Happy Life
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“How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2 (CSB)
Recently, I’ve found myself being allergic to the term “happy.”
In Christian circles, I rarely hear happiness spoken of in a positive light. It tends to be contrasted with virtues like joy and holiness. Desiring to live a happy life is often viewed as self-indulgent while joy is viewed as more spiritual.
In sermons, I hear questions like, “Do you want to be holy or happy?” Some state, “Marriage is for your holiness, not your happiness.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve been left feeling like I should never have both happiness and holiness — like I’d better not touch happiness with a 10-foot pole.
If we’re honest, a craving for happiness is essential to our humanity and motivates us no matter our age or background. Everyone wants to be happy, but not everyone knows how to attain happiness. The trouble is that even as Christians, we so often define happiness differently than God does and look for it where He says it is not found.
The Bible mentions happiness, and it doesn’t suggest we treat it like the religious leaders treated lepers, nor does Scripture tell us to see happiness in contrast to the good things God has for us. Rather, happiness, or living a happy life, is tied to our happy God. God doesn’t tell us to neglect our desire for pleasure and blessing; He wants to be the source of our pleasure and blessing. That means our happiness “taste buds” must mature so that we are made happy by what makes Him happy.
Our key verses, Psalm 1:1-2, give a glimpse into the life of a happy person:
“How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.”
The psalmist says life presents us with two paths: eternal happiness and imitation happiness.
Imitation happiness is a path that promises you a happy life but ultimately presents you with a spiritually unstable life and advances you deeper into sin. Those who take this path think happiness will be attained by listening to the advice of the wicked. Before they know it, they find themselves standing in the pathway with sinners, and soon afterward they are sitting with mockers, a total embodiment of the company they keep.
The path of eternal happiness is just the opposite. This is the life for righteous people whose participation in sin is not growing but, by God’s grace, waning. They do not listen to the advice of the wicked; rather, they are attracted to wisdom. They do not stand with sinners or sit with mockers since those who scoff at God’s Truth are not their preferred counselors. This doesn’t mean they don’t associate with unbelievers — but they don’t make unbelievers their trusted counselors or sources of truth. Instead, they find happiness by delighting in God’s Truth and reflecting on it day and night.
How can we have a happy life? Not by changing our circumstances but by letting God change our delight. Scripture says “delight is in the LORD's instruction” (Psalm 1:2). We need God to change our delight so that we value God’s Word more than the words of those around us. When our desire for God and His Word increases, it creates an eternal impact that brings happiness to our lives.
And nothing can ever take that happiness away from us.
Dear Father, true happiness originates in You. Forgive me for the ways I have sought happiness outside of You through ungodly counsel that does not grow my affection for You. In light of the Word who became flesh, was crucified and rose again — Jesus Christ — turn me away from imitation happiness, and instead grow my delight for You, the Author of eternal happiness. Form me into a fruitful tree so that I might be like my Savior and Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Do you struggle to believe God is a loving Father? In Finding My Father, Blair Linne shares her personal story of growing up without a father at home, which reflects the experiences of millions. She weaves her personal story with thoughtful theological reflection, inviting readers to learn from God what “father” really means and to trust Him even if they feel their earthly fathers have let them down. Click here to learn more!
Grab a cup of coffee and check out Blair’s podcast, Glo, a new offering from The Gospel Coalition where four women from different parts of the world (who love the same Jesus!) come together to discuss the global Church.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 1:6, “For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin” (CSB).
Who are your three primary counselors (friends, family, social media, podcasts, roommates, books, sermons, YouTube videos, TV, Scripture, etc.)? Do the voices you listen to the most encourage or discourage your meditation on God’s Word?
What is one way you can prioritize God’s Word over the other voices in your life? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2023 by Blair Linne. All rights reserved.