By Norman E. Fultz
He was in the furniture business, a merchant in a moderately sized southern town. In a musical message in his radio advertising, he invited folk to “Come on down, We’ll sell you some happiness.” A catchy jingle! And it reflected an idea widely held in our society, that happiness is to be found in the possession of “things.” The truth is, however, that this precious commodity is not for sale by a merchant anywhere.
Money can’t buy happiness, a truism! Contrary to the bumper sticker which says, “Whoever said that money couldn’t buy happiness, just doesn’t know where to shop.” Someone else was getting much closer to the truth when he said, “Happiness comes not from the things you have, but from the lives you touch.”
There are many evidences of unhappiness in our society. Marriage problems, family conflicts, escalated divorce rates, hundreds of thousands of patients in mental hospitals due to stress from many causes, ten million alcoholics, millions more abusing drugs of other sorts, a near epidemic suicide rate – all are mirrors of unhappiness.
But they are all seeking happiness the drunkard and the sober man, the rich and the poor, the learned and the illiterate, the criminal and the law-abiding citizen. However, most do not know where it can be found, and the result is that they are seeking happiness in all the wrong places and in wrong behavior. Their search thus becomes counter-productive. Let me explain.
Happiness! What Is It? Where Does One Go To Get It?
Happiness is not to be found in the satisfaction of unbridled lusts. The writer of Ecclesiastes shows the fallacy of this idea in chapter two. And many moderns who sought to fulfill all their lusts with no restraint have learned too-late that a life of promiscuity often increases the loneliness and emptiness it hoped to alleviate and pangs of guilt enslaved them. Millions have learned that strong drink neither drowns one’s sorrows nor offers a lasting sense of euphoria. It rather creates an insatiable longing for more (Prov. 23:35). Permanently broken lives are often the result of experimentation with drugs when addiction has occurred, leaving a monkey on one’s back, pain and frustration in the heart. And that is to say nothing of the agony felt by loved ones who stand by in an utter sense of helplessness to do anything.
Happiness is not found in self-centeredness. Jesus Christ taught that there is more blessedness in giving than in receiving (Acts 20:35), and it is better to serve than to be served (Matt. 20:28). How different from the modern philosophy that cries, “Look out for number one.”
Happiness is not to be found in self-pity. Instead of self-pity, inspired Scripture rather teaches that one should develop a sense of pity toward others (1 Pet. 3:8). Such an individual sees the pitiable plight of the less fortunate and seeks to remedy that plight. The word used in the passages means “tender-hearted or compassionate.”
Happiness is not found in vengefulness. How truly miserable one makes himself who harbors a “get even” attitude. Instead of “rendering evil for evil ‘ or railing for railing,” to the contrary, offer blessing (1 Pet. 3:9).
Where then, or in what, is happiness to be found? Consider the divine recipe for happiness found in 1 Peter 3:8-12 which includes a quotation from Psalm 34:11-15. The passage asks for the attention of those that “would love life and see good days.”, What better way to define the happy life?
Teachability. The plea the writer makes is, “Hearken . . . I will teach.” An attitude of teachability, of openness to hear the will of God is involved.
Rule the speech. The inspired penman instructs “keep the tongue from evil.” That evil would include falsehood, vulgarity, profanity, faultfinding, and tale-bearing among other such unsavory kinds of speech. And he appeals, keep “the lips from speaking guile.” Deceit, flattery, pretense are forms of guile prevalent in some circles of society.
Control the conduct. Both negative and positive considerations are involved as he pleads, “depart from evil and do good.” Contentment, one of the companions of happiness, and disorderly conduct do not go together.
And finally, he that would love life and see good days should promote peaceful relationships. “Seek peace and pursue it, ” he says. And remember that Paul said to the Romans, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (12:18).
Friend, has happiness eluded you9 Have you sought for it in all the wrong places? If you would enjoy true happiness, seek God’s will and let him have his way with you. And there is this promise, “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Pet. 3:12).
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 15, p. 467
August 4, 1988