Summary: The answer to the question: "does God want me to be happy?" is "yes" and "no."
A. What is happiness? What does it mean to be happy? Here are a few quotes on happiness to get us thinking:
1. “Whoever said money can't buy happiness didn't know where to shop” (Gertrude Stein).
2. “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go” (Oscar Wilde).
3. “It isn't necessary to be rich and famous to be happy. It's only necessary to be rich” (Alan Alda).
4. “Money can't buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery” (Spike Milligan).
5. “Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory” (Albert Schweitzer).
6. “Happiness is the interval between periods of unhappiness” (Don Marquis).
B. Happiness is a very important subject.
1. In our modern, American culture, happiness is paramount.
2. Happiness is even mentioned in our nation’s founding documents: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
C. So does God want us to be happy?
1. Is the pursuit of happiness a self-evident and unalienable right?
2. When people ask the question “Does God want us to be happy,” it is often posed in the form of a trick question.
a. Sometimes we see interviewers on TV try to get the person they are interviewing to answer the question with a simple “yes” or “no.”
b. But some questions, by nature of the question, or the way it is posed, cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”
3. A classic trick question is, “Have you stopped beating your kids?”
a. If you say, “yes,” then you are admitting that you have been beating your kids and that now you have stopped.
b. If you say, “no,” then you are giving the impression that you’re still beating them.
4. So back to our question: Does God want us to be happy?
a. The answer is “yes” and “no.”
b. Does God want us to be happy? Yes, God wants us to be happy, but only happy in the way that He defines happiness, and only pursuing happiness in the ways that He permits and commands.
c. Does God want us to be happy? Not if the pursuit of happiness takes us into the realms of sin, which doesn’t lead to real happiness in the end.
D. Unfortunately, a brand of Christianity has become very popular.
1. It is called the “prosperity gospel” or “the health and wealth gospel.”
2. It is espoused by many TV preachers and it is found in many popular Christian books.
3. It is a message that feels very good. It seems right.
4. It says, “God has good things in store for you. God wants you to enjoy life and prosper in every way. Ultimately, God wants you to be happy.”
5. This is a very subtle and seductive ploy by Satan.
6. Satan takes a truth, or a partial truth and twists it and sucks us in and ultimately takes us away from God.
E. Truth is – God wants you to be happy, but real happiness is the result of being right with God.
1. Real happiness doesn’t come from only experiencing good and easy things.
2. Real happiness doesn’t come from getting everything I want.
3. But when that’s how Christianity is imagined and presented, then we are set up for disaster.
4. If we are told that if we just come to God, then He will bless us with everything we want.
a. That everything will work out and we will always be happy.
b. That because God wants you to be happy, God only has good things in store for you.
5. If we are told that and we buy into that mindset, then we have reduced God to a celestial Santa Claus.
a. We have reduced the God of the universe to a cosmic Coke machine.
b. We put our spiritual quarters in, say our little prayer, and choose what we want by pressing the button, and we expect God to deliver.
6. And if what we pray for doesn’t come out of the slot, then we blame God, because there’s something wrong if God wants me happy, and yet I’m not.
F. Another way I see this misunderstanding about “God wants me to be happy” employed by people is when what they are doing is obviously wrong, but they use “God wants me to be happy” to justify their sin.
1. A husband moves in with a woman who is not his wife, and justifies it saying, “She makes me happy, and God wants me to be happy.”
2. A parent neglects their child in pursuit of their career or their recreation, and justifies it saying, “But this makes me happy, and God wants me to be happy.”