It is right to enjoy the good gifts of God in the way that He designed them to be enjoyed because that’s why He gives them to us. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of the created world are supposed to be enjoyed because God made them to send and made us to receive … pleasure. But rather than enjoying them too little (ingratitude) or too much (idolatry), let us enjoy them as they were intended, as a catalyst for treasuring the Gift-Giver far beyond what He might give to us. The gifts that God sends us are wonderful; but they are nowhere near as wonderful as Him. He is the real gift!
If our contentment depends upon our lives being full of good times and good things, we’re going to ride a roller coaster of highs and lows. We will never be satisfied for long. Why not? Because we will find that the details of our lives are constantly changing so that we often have what we don’t want or want what we don’t have. Jesus offers us something infinitely better… His unchanging presence. His unchanging promises. His unchanging provision. This doesn’t mean life won’t have its ups and downs. It means whatever life is like, we will find the lasting satisfaction we fail to find elsewhere when we look to Jesus.
God wants us to be happy. When He tells us in the Bible to do, say, correct, believe, feel, think or share something, it is not to take away our happiness; it is to take away the things that are in the way of our full and lasting happiness. We must trust that God is after our happiness, that He knows best how to bring about our happiness, and that what He tells us in the Bible is designed to lead us into happiness. Doing what God tells us is not always easy, popular or instantly gratifying. But it is always for good, always better in the end than sin, and always the best option for making us truly, ultimately, and eternally happy.
By grace, God serves up an endless feast of soul-nourishing, soul-delighting blessings for those who trust in Jesus. This includes: forgiveness, friendship, freedom, wisdom, power, peace, purpose, joy, hope, security, rest, justice, thankfulness, assurance, deliverance, guidance, significance, endurance, comfort, companionship, care, courage, transformation, satisfaction, love and life. And this is not a complete list! The countless implications and applications of the benefits that are ours by grace are staggering and extend from now until eternity. It’s a buffet, not a bite. In Jesus, we have the life we’ve always wanted.
Loving others includes being happy that they are happy … unless the source of their happiness is sin. People can find happiness in things ranging from cheating on a test to cheating on a spouse, hurting themselves through addictions to hurting others through mistreatment, and ignoring family needs to ignoring God. This is not the time to be happy for them; it is the time to help them. We should support: Godly ambitions, but not selfish ones. Godly affections, but not sinful ones. Godly actions, but not senseless ones. Let us encourage each other to be happy in ways that will not be regretted in the end.
There is a heavenly scene that should run through our minds often as we run the race of life. When we grow weary from serving, we should think of it. When the good we do doesn’t seem to be doing much good, we should think of it. When the risk or sacrifice of living out our faith is high, we should think of it. Here’s the scene: We cross the finish line. We see the smiling face of Jesus. We fall down before Him. And we hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.” Know this… Every long day. Every hard day. Every costly day. In that moment, it will all be worth it.
There is much I love about my heavenly Father. One thing is this: He doesn’t just let me do anything I want to do. He knows that there are many things I want to do which are not good for me or for other people. So, instead of letting me live selfishly, He removes some things from me in order to replace them with better things. His plans for my plans. His ways for my ways. His outcomes for my outcomes. The result isn’t that I experience less, but that I experience more. More peace. More joy. More hope. More purpose. Remember, when God says “No,” to something, He is saying “Yes” to something better.
You can’t afford it; but it’s already paid for. You can’t earn it; but it’s freely given. You can’t secure it; but it’s always available to you. God’s grace has countless implications and applications for everyday life and eternal life, ranging from getting good things to getting through bad things to getting to the best things. There is grace for you to have the life of real contentedness that you’ve always wanted. And that’s just the beginning, for it will expand and extend throughout eternity. All you have to do is … Want it. Ask for it. Receive it. Enjoy it. Grace isn’t about your doing or your deserving; it’s about God giving us His gifts.
There is a lot we learn to love about Who Jesus is, which we learn about from what Jesus does. We love that He is gracious, kind, powerful, wise and compassionate … and we see He is all of those things in the way He relates to us. He forgives us, so we know He is gracious. He blesses us, so we know He is kind. He helps us, so we know He is powerful. He guides us, so we know He is wise. He cares for us, so we know He is compassionate. But it is His character, nature and personality that draw us and delight us. We don’t love Jesus because we see His wonderful acts; we love Jesus because we see His wonderful heart.
Worshipping Jesus is war against worshipping anything else. Only one person, pursuit, prize or passion can rank as your highest priority, get your greatest admiration and be your fullest joy. The more you value Jesus above all other things, the less you will value other things above Jesus. Your heart. Your mind. Your will. These will all bow down to something or someone that means the most to you. While we are “given all things richly to enjoy,” none of these things are meant to compete with our love and loyalty for Jesus. Who is worthy of our worship? May we answer with our hearts, minds and lives: Jesus is.
How is God glorified through our happiness? There are at least three ways… First, He is glorified when we trust that He knows best how to make us happy, and we lovingly do what He says to bring about our happiness. Second, He is glorified when we thank Him for the good things He gives to us and does for us that make us happy so that He gets credit. Third, He is glorified when we treasure Him as our ultimate source of happiness by delighting not just in His gifts, but in Him as a good and generous and gracious Giver. Trust Him. Thank Him. Treasure Him. This is how God is honored in us and we are happy in Him.