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Happiness... or Holiness?



We Christians have sometimes made a mistake when leading others to Christ in allowing (or encouraging) them to believe that, once they are born-again children of God, there will no longer be any trials in their lives.


This may be especially true when they come to us as unbelievers having made total messes of their lives and the lives of those persons around them. They may have been involved in multiple marriages with additional relationships that did not even involve marriage.


They may have been involved in deviant sexual lifestyles or pornography. They may be, or have been, addicted to drugs or alcohol. They may have prison records. They may have driven loved ones away by physical, verbal or emotional abuses.


Whatever the case may be, accepting Christ is just the beginning, and a new Christian needs to understand that so they won't become discouraged. Nehemiah 8:10 says that "The joy of the Lord is our strength," but joy and happiness are not the same thing. The "joy of the Lord" is a deep sense of satisfaction and contentment that God loves you deeply, is always with you and has everything under control.


Likewise, an absence of trouble is not a sign of true spirituality. In fact, Jesus said to His disciples, "In this world, you will have trouble." Not particularly cheery news. However, He then added, "But take heart! I have overcome the world."


Many of the sins mentioned above are life and mind-controlling sins that can never be broken outside of total redemption and cleansing found through receiving forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Although Jesus Christ may deliver one person instantaneously and completely from one or more of these debilitating sins, he may allow another to rely on His grace to fight former temptations. That person may endure agony of the soul as they are delivered over a much longer period of time.

Also, most times, we are not delivered from the effects of our former sinful lifestyles. When asked by someone what to do about previous divorces and remarriages, the Rev. Billy Graham said, "You can't unscramble eggs," a practical way of saying that you must start anew in the Christian life, repairing and restoring where it is humanly possible but trusting the remainder to God's hands.


God is not interested in our happiness. He is interested in our holiness. And we cannot muster up true holiness. This, too, must come from Him. To be holy before God requires being completely surrendered to Him, having a quiet and gentle spirit of obedience and devotion to His Word. His desires must become our desires, His heart our heart, His Spirit our spirit.


When this is a reality in your life, then and only then will that deep, abiding joy and contentment pervade your life: in health or in sickness, in trouble or without, in peace or in persecution, in calm or in calamity. Earthly happiness can be destroyed in a moment by a sudden death, a bad medical report, financial collapse, a request for divorce, a phone call from jail regarding a wayward child's actions, loss of a job or destroyed dreams.


Happiness is fleeting. True Godly joy and holiness are eternal. Which do you choose?

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