What Does it Mean to Have a Happy Life as a Christian
All the time I hear phrases such as You've got one life to live so be happy, To be happy you need to put yourself first, Do what makes you happy— and many more with the same sentiment and tone. While I agree that happiness is a part of life, I don't think the number one goal as a Christian is to make yourself happy.
You see, I've noticed a trend that leads people down a path of disappointment, discouragement, and self-centeredness, all in the pursuit of happiness. What does it even mean to be happy? In our society today, happiness means doing what you want, when you want and how you want. For Christians I believe that true happiness requires sacrifice and a commitment to replacing our inward-focus with one that looks outward. One that does not look at people as objects for our personal use, but rather humans made in the image of God.
Let's be honest, how many of you have said “I want to lose weight,” only to grab a fork and indulge in a pan of brownies or eat the whole bag of chips? How many of you want to get out of debt but then on a whim spend $75 on a new video game or outfit? How many of you want to become a better neighbor or friend but only spend time selfishly on what you want to do? How many of you have stated, “I can't wait to retire so I can spend every day on the golf course”?
James 1:3-4 (NLT) says, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
To be truly happy usually requires some sort of sacrifice, which is HARD. Sacrifice does not make most people happy. As a matter of fact, sacrifice makes most people feel uncomfortable. Changing your outlook and creating new patterns takes time— it does not happen overnight. As we live in a time period of instant gratification, if anything takes longer than 5 seconds (okay, that's maybe a bit of an exaggeration), we just throw in the towel, never to return to bettering ourselves to be more like Christ. If you are looking to get out of debt, you will have to get yourself on a plan, start to budget and then live by that to change your current behaviors and spending patterns. If you want to be a better neighbor or friend, again you will have to make yourself turn off the TV and see if you can mow your elderly neighbors lawn. To create new patterns, you have to work on it over and over until it becomes the new pattern. And then guess what? You move on to the next area you need to work on.
What I think people don't understand is that instant gratification does not produce a happy life. All it does is make you “feel good” for a small moment in time. Creating a happy life requires change, hard work, and sacrifice. But in the end, if you put in the work, you will eventually find happiness while embracing the joy in the journey.