The other day a thought came to my mind that I feel will impact the way I live my life.
'I must desire holiness above happiness'
The two are not mutually exclusive, that is, I can be experiencing both at the same time, but when the two interfere with each other, happiness must be sacrificed at the altar of holiness.
But how do the two intertwine and relate to each other?
Throughout the Bible we are presented with the idea of holiness. It is exclusively and consistently used in reference to God, and the things he has taken for himself. The place where Moses stood was Holy, because God was there. The Sabbath is Holy, for it is the day that God rested. The Arc of the Covenant was Holy because it represented the pact between God and Israel. Israel was a Holy nation, because God had called them out to himself. However, at the same time, God instructs the Israelites on how they should live holy lives. Not only did God call them out, but he expected them to live out this calling. We see this again in the NT when Peter calls believers a 'holy nation,' yet encourages us to abstain from lusts in the very next verse. (1 Peter 2:9-10).
This brings me an interesting point: holiness, or sanctification is two fold; in other words, there are two stages to sanctification. First, God, through His grace chooses to set us apart for himself. Secondly, the people that He has called out respond in setting themselves apart to God. Obviously the latter is impossible without the former, and the latter is our responsibility. God sets apart to Himself a people, and then it is the people's job to set themselves apart to God. This principle rolls over from the Israelite nation in the OT, to believers in the NT.
Christ died for many reasons, but in light of these two experiences, happiness was not something that Christ died for. He died for me to be Holy, that is, to be free from the power of sin and all that is entailed. When I place my pleasures above His call to 'set-apartness' from sin and this world, I disrespect the sacrifice of Christ, and fail to fulfill my proper response to Gods choosing to set me apart. We choose to set ourselves apart.
'So God doesn't want us to be happy?'
That depends on what makes you happy.
If fulfilling your own desires makes you happy, then no.
If fulfilling Gods desires makes you happy, then yes.
Easy enough, right? Well, easier said than done.
God did not call us apart to our own desires. (That doesn't even make sense) By definition, a calling apart by God must involve ridding ourselves of....... (You guessed it) ourselves. A sort of mortification, if you will.
Christ, while on earth, was not happy all the time. We can see that in His life. I mean, the guy had many stresses, plus dealing with the 12 disciples who barely understood Him; not to mention the impending and inevitable suffering of the Cross. However, we have no doubt that Christ is holy.
Check out these verses.
Hebrews 12:1-2: Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
As we pursue sanctification, we look to Christ. The hope of being with the Father, being glorified, being able to enjoy intimacy with us, and all the unspeakable joy that accompanies, was enough for Him to endure all that He did.
Don't confuse happiness with Joy. Joy is fully dependent on Christ, and His dealings with us. He is firm in His standings toward us, and because of that, our joy is firm. It does not fluctuate with the weather, or your favorite sports team.
For us humans, happiness is a result of the fulfillment of our goals or desires (simply put). If our goals and desires are temporal, materialistic and dependent on the vanishing world, then so will our happiness be. If our enjoyment of life is dependent on an unchanging God, and His unchanging desires for our lives, then so will our happiness be.
Let us not make the mistake of compromising our holiness to the whim of happiness. Our own desires must constantly submit, and in some cases be sacrificed to our pursuit of a deeper and more intimate relationship with God.