A woman in Sweden was prepared to divorce her husband. Not because they were incompatible or because he was abusing her but because she was unhappy. Her children said, “You have a right to be happy.” I told her she was going to leave her kids the legacy that if a marriage doesn’t suit you, claim your rights rather than assuming your responsibilities.
People into entitlement break commitments that don’t serve their cause. If anyone was entitled to anything, it was Jesus. Yet rather than claiming His rights as the King, He emptied Himself. We are to do the same. We react when someone offends us, because we think that we deserve better treatment.
Our inclination is to choose happiness. All things equal, we’d rather be happy than sad. If you choose happiness over holiness…
you will feel entitled, and you will complain if you don’t get what you deserve; and
you will become a victim, always feeling like you’re getting a bad deal. Plus,
You will choose survival over service. The three men in the fiery furnace did not try to escape the fire; they wanted to escape disobedience. God will protect His own. Paul said, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). He wasn’t going for the easy way—he wanted the right way. Those committed to ‘happy’ will chose the road of least resistance, like the Swedish friend. And,
You will choose self-indulgence over self-denial. The Christian life bears the mark of the cross. Jesus died that we might live, but He also died that we might die—to selfish pleasure, to the biggest piece of the pie, to the first place in line. These people are grabbing and never satisfied. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). Kids learn it soon—“that’s mine.” As soon as you start grabbing, you lose. Satan was a grabber.
If you choose holiness over happiness…
you get happiness thrown in. The writer of Hebrews quotes the psalmist who says of Jesus, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy (Heb. 1:9; Ps. 45). Jesus did not ask to be happy, but He was the happiest person who ever lived. His Father guaranteed it, pouring the oil of gladness all over Him.
“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”—not a good idea. But those who pursue holiness (Christ-likeness) get happiness as part of the package. Simply put—the holier, the happier. Nothing makes the world more unhappy than sin. By contrast, nothing makes the world more joy-filled than godly character.