What is the Real key to Happiness?

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will~ Romans 12:2

 Those of us born in the Western world are blessed to live in what is in some ways the very best of times. Despite the growing political and social turmoil and moral degradation it is without question a fantastic time to be alive.

 Human ingenuity has allowed all sorts of regular people to live at a level of comfort and ease that was formerly unknown, even to the wealthiest and most privileged in earlier times. The magnificent wonders of fresh-brewed coffee, central air-conditioning, disposable diapers, hot showers, automobiles, smartphones, and DoorDash never fail to blow my mind and remind me exactly how fortunate I was to have been born in the 20th century rather than the 18th or even the 19th.

 The marvels of our time make it possible for almost anyone to satisfy nearly any craving or whim with very little effort on their part. However, inexplicably we are perhaps one of the unhappiest, most miserable cultures in the history of history.


Millions of people are addicted to things that people in other times would have viewed as extraordinarily strange—activities like shopping, social media, online pornography and video games.

 Millions are dependent on powerful mood-altering drugs both legal and illicit. There are folks who are so lonesome and socially isolated that they are willing to pay strangers good money just to hear them talk. Divorce rates have been soaring for decades and nearly two-thirds of adults say they are unhappy with their lives.

Seriously? Two-thirds? Think about that.

Loneliness, discontent, depression, free-floating anxiety and addiction are not exactly the hallmarks of a happy, well-adjusted society.

They are the hallmarks of our society. 

 Some have observed the oxymoronic conundrum of blessing and misery and concluded that the problem lies entirely with the blessings. This crowd chooses to go the monastic route and sheds the stuff. I do not take issue with this logic. No rational believer would quarrel with the notion of casting off a materialistic mindset (Matthew 6:19-21, 1st Timothy 6:10, Matthew 6:24). Jesus was painfully straightforward regarding his view of materialism when he admonished two brothers arguing over money with this warning:

 Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions~ Luke 12:15

 Nothing good has ever come out of unrestrained materialism. However, I do not believe that materialism is the source of our misery. The stockpiling of material possessions is more of a symptom of the problem than the actual problem.

 The problem is focus.

 The blessings of our age come with a tendency to focus all of our attention on ourselves. The dark side of yummy food, cozy houses, career opportunities, universal human rights, central air and the convenience of DoorDash is that these things can easily cause us to think that we deserve more and more and more of the same. Getting our needs met, never being uncomfortable, getting what we want, and seeing our rights recognized can easily become the driving force in our lives. When these things become the driving force in our lives we become wholly self-focused, and wholly self-focused people are miserable and impossible to please.

 Jesus assures us in Matthew 10:39 that if we voluntarily give up our life, (i.e. our rights, convenience, comfort, preferences) for His sake we will find authentic peace and lasting joy. Conversely demanding more life, (as in more rights, more stuff, more convenience, more comfort, preferences) leads to self-focus and self-focus is the root of unhappiness because we were made for more (John 10:10).

 There are two two things we must do to end the misery.

First we must train ourselves to recognize the conveniences and comforts of our time for the mind-blowing blessings from God that they really are. The proper response to hot showers, universal human rights, electric blankets and DoorDash is awe and gratitude to our great God for allowing us to experience these profound blessings (1st Chronicles 16:34-35, 1st Thessalonians 5:18, Psalm 69:30, Psalm 100:4,Ephesians 5:20, Hebrews 12:28) .

 However, gratitude alone is not enough.

We also need to get outside of ourselves. We accomplish that by using what we’ve been blessed with to serve God and people (Matthew 3:10, Matthew 24:36, Luke 6:27, 3rd John 1:11). Serving breaks the bondage of self-focus and materialism and enables us to see life, people and our own selves from God’s perspective.

 Serving accomplishes yet another even more significant purpose. It molds us into the image of Christ (Romans 12, 2nd Corinthians 3:18). Jesus was the ultimate servant and the standard for all things good. When we serve like Jesus served, our love and good deeds draw the unbelieving world to faith in our God. Our world becomes a much better place with a little less of us and whole lot more of Jesus.

















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