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  • Writer's pictureMark Hallock

What Makes You Happy?

“As a deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1–2).

I have been thinking about the connection between happiness and holiness on this chilly morning.

When are you most happy? Or you could put it this way, when do you experience the deepest joy in your life?

For me, while there are many things that bring me joy in life, my greatest happiness is always found when I am closest to Jesus, when I am pursuing holiness and intimacy with Him. Nothing comes close. On the other hand, when I take my eyes off Jesus and choose to give my mind and heart to worldly, unholy things, true, fulfilling, peace-filled happiness is impossible to come by.

Momentary, worldly pleasure is no substitute for lasting, grace-fueled joy.

This is true for every true Christian: Happiness and holiness go hand in hand. In fact, without holiness, every believer knows (and experiences) the reality that happiness is impossible to find, at least in any lasting measure.

The good news is that our awesome God empowers us and blesses us with both of these things by His grace: holiness and happiness.

It works like we pursue our happiness in the Lord, a life of holiness naturally results. Likewise, as we pursue holiness in the Lord, our happiness in God only increases. This is how God has set things up. It's His masterful design at work.

I love how Jon Bloom puts it. He writes:

God is supremely holy. And God is supremely happy (1 Timothy 1:11). God is love (1 John 4:8). And he is all light with no darkness (1 John 1:5). All that is good, all that brings true, lasting joy, and all that is truly, satisfyingly, eternally pleasurable comes from him.

And we are to be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:16). So, to pursue holiness, we must pursue our greatest happiness. Who has delivered us from our bodies of indwelling, sin-induced death? Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24–25)! Our unholy sin disease has been given a cure in the cross. We no longer need to fixate on the diagnostic tool of the law. Now, in pursuit of holiness, we aim primarily at our affections, not primarily at our behaviors. For behaviors are symptomatic of the state of our affections. What is a delight to us ceases to be a duty for us.

So God’s call to move “further up and further in” in holiness is an invitation to joy! Your fullest happiness ends up being the “holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

I love that! “God’s call to move “further up and further in” in holiness is an invitation to joy!”

Friends, may we move “further up and further in” in holiness, pursuing our happiness in the Lord each and everyday, by the grace of God, for the glory of God. This is the life we were made for.

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