Summary: We all are seeking happiness and often find ourselves discouraged. That is why we are not to produce the spiritual fruit of happiness but rather joy. This sermon discovers what joy is and how to find it.
If I were to ask you this morning “What makes you happy?” how would you answer? Perhaps your answer would be friends and family. We are all born with a need for social connections. Did you realize that physical touch, like a hand shake or a hug releases endorphins in our brain which is a type of a natural drug akin to an opiate?
Meaningful work was another form of happiness. We find ourselves extremely happy when are engaged in an activity that makes us forget ourselves and lose track of time. We have within us a natural trait to achieve our potential. When we finish our task and are happy with the results we achieve a higher level of happiness.
Positive thinking can actually lead to a feeling of happiness. We achieve this level of happiness by refusing to compare ourselves with others. We also can choose to believe the better option. For example, your spouse works late due to their work load and not because they have no desire to spend more time with you.
Gratitude can make us happy, both receiving it and showing it. We all enjoy someone appreciating something we have done for them. And we also want to make others happy by showing our gratitude to them.
There is happiness to be found in forgiveness. When we are angry with someone we find ourselves depressed. Allowing these angry feelings to be replaced by forgiveness will bring you a peace of mind and happiness.
Another avenue to happiness is giving of your time to others. When we are struggling with finding happiness we should volunteer at some organization.
Of course we have our religion to bring us happiness. We have a need within to believe in some religious belief. And connecting with that belief can bring us happiness.
Along with our right to our beliefs we also have the right to personal freedom. We cannot seem to find happiness living in a situation where we are not allowed to determine our own fate or make our own choices.
It is a fact that good health contributes to our happiness. It is wonderful to wake in the morning and feel well, to be able to achieve our goals, and rest peacefully at night.
And surprisingly watching TV brings happiness to some. Perhaps it is the escape from reality.
However one day things seem to spiral downward. Our TV does not function. We have the chance to take a look in the mirror and realize that our health is failing. We call our employer to inform them of our illness only to discover that we not have the choice of working or not. All that our religion has taught us about trust and things working to our benefit are now in doubt.
As we reluctantly travel to our job we pass a motorist in need. Not being in the spirit of giving at the moment we leave them stranded. We suddenly have a memory of someone who left us stranded once and realize that we still harbor resentment toward them. We have a broken TV set, failing health, a job that forces us to work, and a weak religious belief. We have nothing for which to be grateful.
As we head for our work station we notice who has a better job than us, who has a better relationship with the management, and who seems to be moving up the ladder of success. We realize how lousy our job is and ask ourselves “Why do I put up with this everyday?” and come to the conclusion it’s for our family and friends who do not appreciate us.
Happiness is fleeting and there is no wonder as to why. The root word for happy comes from the Old Norse noun “happ”. This same root word also meant luck and circumstance. We are happy when things are going our way and luck is on our side.
However when circumstances turn on us and we find ourselves in despair, we find that happiness has left us. That is why God did not expect us to be able to bear the spiritual fruit of happiness but rather the spiritual fruit of joy. Happiness comes from the external events surrounding us but joy comes from our relationship with Jesus.
In Philippians 4:4 Paul wrote “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” Paul wrote this letter from a Roman prison where he had been held for two years waiting his execution. I do not believe for a moment that Paul was filled with happiness over his imprisonment but he was full of joy.
Where happiness is based on circumstances, joy is an attitude. Joy is a choice. It is your choice to rejoice. Joy is what makes life enjoyable. If you cannot think of any reasons to rejoice let me suggest three.