The Christian Life
"For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you… If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." - John 13-17.
WORLDLY HAPPINESS SHORT-LIVED:
There are many things in this world that can bring us temporary joy and happiness – sufficient money, business success, good health, loving family, loyal friends. But no worldly thing can bring enduring joy and happiness. We might become poor, fail at business, lose our health, or, by separation or death, lose our spouse or our friends. Even if we gain all of these, and more, and keep them, sooner or later we must leave them all behind and "go the way of all flesh". The saying is true - ‘You cannot take it with you’!
Jesus taught, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul [or life]?" (Matthew 16-25/26). Life is far more valuable than possessing even all the world, but if we live a purely selfish life we will lose it. In Matthew 10:39, Jesus taught: "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it".
What Jesus is saying is that worldly things are but short-lived, but that the loss of these things and even life itself, because of one’s belief in Him, will one day gain everlasting life. The way to that life he showed: "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." – (Mark 8-34). Jesus denied himself so as to be totally obedient to God, His Father, even to death upon a cruel Roman cross. But God raised him from the dead and gave him eternal life, divine glory and great honour, to sit at God’s right hand in heaven, with "angels, principalities and powers being subject to him".
Clearly, Jesus wants his disciples to know an extremely important truth about life and happiness. DENYING SELF, SO AS TO BELIEVE AND OBEY GOD IS THE WAY TO LIFE AND HAPPINESS. We will begin to walk that way when we respond to The Great Teacher’s appeal in Matthew 11-28/30: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn [be instructed] of me; for I am meek [teachable] and lowly in heart [humble, self-denying]: and ye shall find rest [happiness and peace] unto your souls. For my yoke is easy [it fits well] and my burden is light [is not hard to bear]".
The humble, selfless, teachable person who allows him/herself to be disciplined by God’s word is the really happy one - not the one who lives for ‘number one’ - for self! The first person is God-centred, and worships God; the second person is self-centred and really only worships self!
GODLY HAPPINESS ENDURES:
An enduringly happy, useful, and contented life is possible now - but only to those who "lose" their selfish life in the selfless service of God and their fellow man. As a gift of God’s grace for a present life of service, God will grant such people eternal life in the future, when God’s Kingdom comes, and when His will comes to be done on earth as it is now done in heaven. Such people will be granted to continue to serve their God and their fellow man forever! Then he or she will be blissfully, and eternally happy! "The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it", (Proverbs 10-22).
Denying self, coming unto Christ, learning of him, resting in Him, taking up His cross, copying His service to God and to others – these are the steps to a life of enduring happiness and peace. Jesus told his disciples, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world", John 16-33.
Jesus has not promised that His disciples will have ‘a bed of roses’ in their waiting for His Kingdom, but HE HAS PROMISED HIS GUIDANCE, AND HELP, PRODUCING PEACE OF MIND AND TRUE HAPPINESS IN HIS SERVICE. There will come to us an inner peace and happiness in the knowledge that God is our Heavenly Father, that he loves us, cares for us, forgives and helps us; that Jesus is our High Priest in heaven, who intercedes to God on our behalf, and that God’s Kingdom is to come on this earth soon.
THE HAPPY LIFE IS THE SELFLESS LIFE LIVED IN THE TRUST, AND TO THE GLORY OF GOD. When we know The Father, "the one true God" we will come to love Him, "Who first loved us" and gave His Son to redeem us from sin and death - "the just for the unjust to bring us to God". (write for ‘The Truth About God’, and ‘The Truth about the Atonement’). We will then seek to show God our love for Him in practical ways – in the reading, believing, and obeying His Word; in worship with others "of like precious faith"; and in "doing good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith", 2 Peter 1-1, Galatians 6-10.
HOW TO GAIN GODLY HAPPINESS
The very first words of our Lord’s ministry have to do with godly happiness and how it may be gained, (Matthew 5-1/16). The "poor in spirit, mourners, meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted for righteousness’ sake, reviled for Christ’s sake", all have assured rewards - both now and in the coming Kingdom of [or from] heaven, (write for ‘The Truth About The Kingdom of God’). Jesus is not only encouraging his disciples to seek true happiness, but is saying that THEIR ATTITUDE, AND THEIR SERVICE TO HIM GUARANTEES HAPPINESS.
The Greek word translated "blessed" means "blissfully happy". The Lord Jesus promises that real, lasting happiness, along with God’s provision of all our essential needs, will be ours, if we "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness", Matthew 6-33. That search is through reading God’s word and earnest prayer to Him.