Summary: The world offers us fame, wealth, beauty, wisdom, and power to make us happy. But true happiness can only be found in one place.
Today we conclude our freedom messages. We’ve discussed our life in Christ and our freedom in Christ. Today I want to teach about our pursuit of happiness.
What makes you happy? In a recent survey the most common themes of happiness were fame, wealth, beauty, wisdom, and power. Those surveyed felt any combination of these 5 things could bring true happiness. Let’s look at each one.
Fame--- In a recent survey of high school kids, 51% said their ultimate goal was to be famous. This is a new trend among those in high school. Experts say where you find kids who desperately want to be famous; you find a history of neglect at home. The explosion of those desiring to be famous came right along with the explosion of single parents and “broken” homes. The fact 51% desire to be famous and 51% come from broken homes is no coincidence. And sadly those who do become famous are four times more likely to commit suicide.
Wealth--- Nigeria is the most populous country in West Africa. The life expectancy is 47 years. Almost 10% of their newborns do not survive. Only 29% of their population goes beyond elementary education. 32% are illiterate. Their average income is $300 a year.
But according to a recent United Nations survey the Nigerians are happier with their lives than the people from any other country. The United States ranked 16th. China’s levels of happiness and personal satisfaction are dropping at the same rate of the explosion of their economy and increase of their incomes.
The reason wealth does not bring happiness is because we are a people of comparisons. I make about 50 thousand dollars a year. I envy the guy who makes 500 thousand dollars a year. But that guy envies the one who makes 5 million dollars a year. And on it goes. But I make almost 200 times more than the average Nigerian and they are 15 times happier than I am. By the way, you naturally don’t want as much as the next guy, you want more and always will.
Beauty--- It is a fact that being physically attractive has concrete advantages. Attractive people earn more, get better grades, have better jobs, and find more successful partners than average people. Strangers are more likely to help them in a crisis. They have wider social circles.
But they also have the same self-esteem problems that the average looking people do. Like money, attractiveness is relative and if you look better than your friends you start comparing yourself to those in the media. What you don’t realize is that their pictures have been Photo shopped to remove any blemishes or unattractive features.
Wisdom--- We call those with great wisdom at what they do “genius”. For example Cam Newton is a “genius” at being a quarterback. (Sorry all you Rodger and Romo fans!) But too many times great wisdom can lead us to being very obnoxious.
Did anyone watch “House” on TV? He was a doctor with great wisdom at solving great medical riddles. But it gave him a free pass to do drugs on the job, break hospital policy, insult his superiors, and treat patients with extreme disrespect. Although he was a fictional character sadly his portrayal can be all too real.
There is an old saying that goes “It’s hard to soar with eagles when you’re running with turkeys.” Basically wisdom can lead to you feeling superior to those around you.
Power--- We desire power so we can shake our fist at those who are more famous than us, who are wealthier than us, who are more beautiful than us, and who have greater wisdom than us so that we can declare “I’ll show them. I’ll show them all.” But power is very brief because there is someone more famous, wealthier, beautiful, and wiser waiting to take our power away.
Now, let’s study the life of the wealthiest man in the Bible. We find his biography in Ecclesiastes. It is believed by most scholars that he is King Solomon. He has it all; fame, wealth, beauty, wisdom, and power. But yet he declares 27 times that all these things are meaningless.
As for fame he wrote; “I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!