September 3, 2021
The Pursuit of Happiness
By Skip Heitzig
Did you know that God has a lot to say about happiness? People chase happiness, and yet so many never find it. But that's because happiness isn't found by direct pursuit; happiness is the by-product of another pursuit. When you pursue God and you pursue holiness, happiness tags along (see Matthew 6:33).
We see this in Psalm 1, where the very first word is the word blessed, or literally, oh, how happy. This psalm describes the truly happy man or woman by four things:
1. By what he declines, or says no to. "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful" (v. 1). Put another way, happy is the person who understands that no is many times the first step to yes. So what are we to say no to? Bad advice, bad associations, and bad actions. This doesn't mean it's bad to make friends with unbelievers (see Matthew 11:19). But Christians who move the world are those who don't let the world move them. That's why we need to be careful about whose advice we listen to and who we hang out with.
2. In what he delights. "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night" (v. 2). It doesn't say his duty or his drudgery is to read the Bible every day. He looks forward to it. Why? Because this Book is the means toward an end, and that end is an encounter with the living God. Here's what's even more amazing: when David wrote this psalm, the Bible was only made up of the first five books of Moses. We have sixty-six books, a treasure trove of truth on which to meditate—to feed and consciously engage our minds.
3. By what he depicts. "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper" (v. 3). This image of a tree depicts progress, permanence, productivity, perseverance, and prosperity in the Christian life. This is the picture of a person who is connected to God and thus happy through a lifetime.
4. By how he differs. "The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish" (vv. 4-6). This is the difference between the righteous and the ungodly: one is a growing, living, fruitful tree, while the other is a pile of chaff that's blown away by the wind. Which does your life resemble?
God has provided us the model of what He calls a truly happy person. And it's not as we pursue happiness but as we pursue holiness that there will be a corresponding happiness. I pray that the Lord would help you see that in saying no to certain things, you can say yes to all the right things and live a life that He calls truly blessed.
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