“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. . . “ These declared our forefathers in the Constitution of these United States, are basic human rights. They considered that all people have the right to pursue happiness. This right is from our Creator – God.
We have the right to pursue happiness.
Many today consider that happiness is a right. I hear many say, “God wants me to be happy.” Does He? The founding fathers says we have a right in this nation to PURSUE happiness. I might pursue happiness all my life and never catch it, but I have the right to that pursuit. I do not think the founding fathers considered that God necessarily wanted them to be happy.
I looked up “be happy” in the English Standard Version and found one occurrence, “When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.” (Deuteronomy 24:5). I think the idea is that a man and woman need time to lay a good foundation for their marriage. This verse is NOT saying God wants me to be happy.
For comparison I looked up the words “be holy.” I counted 156 occurrences of the words in the same sentence or verse and 32 matches for the exact order. One of those passages is 1 Peter 1:14-16, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (underlined for emphasis – SMc). God wants me to be holy.
God wants me to be holy.
To be holy is to be set apart, to be sanctified for service to God (Colossians 1:19-23). But more than that, holiness is distinctiveness (2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1). When we become God’s children through the blood of Christ we are set apart, called out of the world, and delivered into the Kingdom of His Son. This calling is our salvation from the wrath of God and to a distinctive life – a life different from the world.
Holiness is Distinctiveness
If my life is not distinctive, if I talk like the word, if my entertainment is the same as the world’s entertainment, if I dress like the word, am I any different from the world? Am I distinctive? Am I holy? Have I set my life apart for God?
If my pursuit of happiness comes from the things of the world. I am not pursuing holiness. Stop trying to be happy according to the world’s standards. God does not tell us, “Be happy as I am happy.”
I do have good news. When you choose to pursue holiness, you will find much happiness. Holiness is key to happiness.
- Trust God even in the tough times – Psa 23:4
- Be content with God’s daily blessings – 1 Tim 6:6-8
- Live each moment (day) with God – Matt 6:34
- Set holiness (distinctiveness) as your goal – Col 3:1-2
- Be holy to be happy, walk in the steps of the Lord – Jer 10:23
Religious thinker, speaker, and writer A. W. Tozer said in his book Of Man and God, “No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts seeking to know and do the will of God . . .”
Today, I give up trying to be happy and start trying to be holy – distinctive – to live for God. Then in Christ I find that pursuing holiness fulfills my life and that brings true happiness.