The Bible and Happiness
(John 10, 1 Timothy 6, Romans 15)
Introduction: Happiness is a complex topic. So much of the Christian life sounds like the opposite of happiness. We talk about self-denial and self-sacrifice. We speak about taking up "our cross." Yet, as I look around at my fellow Christians(and look at myself), we don't seem all that unselfish. I see people who have better "things" than I do and I think "I would like to have things like that." Is "stuff" the key to happiness? Is renouncing "things" the path to joy? Are Christians missing out on happiness because they have so many things? Let's dive into the Bible and discover God's goals for us!
- God's Goal and Money
- What is God's goal for us? Is it to be poor? We point to Jesus as our example, and He was "homeless" (see Matthew 8:20).
- No Christian I know chooses to be homeless. Are we just ignoring His example?
- Read John 10:9-10. When Jesus says that He wants His followers to "have life ... to the full" is He talking about an abstract eternal life, or life here and now? (Whatever Jesus is referring to, according to Strong's the Greek word translated "full" (perissos) means "superabundantly," "excessively." Note that Jesus begins these texts by speaking of eternal life.)
- Read Proverbs 15:6. Does this text refer to money and "stuff" in our life here and now? (Yes.)
- Is another concept also floating around in this verse? (Yes. Both the righteous and the wicked have money in this verse, but for the wicked money causes trouble.)
- Read Proverbs 10:22. What does this say about wealth and trouble? (It suggests that money by itself brings trouble. When God blesses us with money, He leaves the trouble behind.)
- Read Proverbs 11:28. What does this say about money and righteousness? (One of the problems with money is trusting it for our future. The righteous person, who trusts in God and not money, has a "green leaf" future!)
- Read 1 Samuel 2:7. Is money referred to in a positive or negative way? (Poverty seems to humble us and wealth exalts us.)
- Who is behind this humility and exultation? (God.)
- Which makes you more happy - to be humbled or exalted?
- Read Isaiah 5:8. What does this suggest about being wealthy? (That you are alone!)
- Read Mark 4:18-19. What does this say about wealth and God's word? (That the "deceitfulness" of wealth "chokes" the word.)
- Let's stop and ponder what we have read. We have looked at texts from both the Old and New Testaments. Normally, we tend to equate a "superabundant" life, and "excessive" life with money. But, what overall lesson do these texts teach us about money and having a good and righteous life? (Money is a tricky thing. It can bring problems - indeed it often does. Only a combination of righteousness and wealth make life better.)
- What would you say is God's goal for us when it comes to money? Will God give us money so that we will be happy?
- If we say that God will bless us with money, should we be righteous as a means to become wealthy? (Read 1 Timothy 6:5. We will later explore the context of this text, but this clearly says that only a "corrupt mind" "robbed of the truth" thinks "godliness is a means to financial gain.")
- We have looked at what the Bible says about the abundant life and money. Do things lead to happiness? Let's explore that next.
- The Happy Life
- Read 1 Timothy 6:3-5. What words do you see in this text that are not what come to mind when you think of being happy?
- What seems to be the source of this unhappiness? (Conceited people who do not have God's truth.)
- Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10. How can we avoid grief? (Godliness with contentment.)
- If we link the idea of happiness with wealth, what is the problem with wanting to become rich? (The Bible is plain that a desire for money is a dangerous path that can easily plunge us into ruin and destruction.)
- Money does not seem to be the path to happiness. Let's look at some texts that suggest a positive route to happiness. Read Psalms 133:1. What is one source of happiness among those who follow God? (Unity.)
- Read Romans 15:13-14. What role does the Holy Spirit play in our happiness? (The Holy Spirit fills us with hope - and hope gives us joy and peace.)
- What are we hoping for? (The entire chapter speaks of hope. But, this specific text says that we are trusting in God. The logical conclusion is that if things are not well, we are hoping that things will get better in our life. If things are going well, we trust in God for the future. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to have that kind of hope. And hope fills us with joy and peace.)
- Read Galatians 5:22-25. How many of the words found in this text would you connect with happiness?
- What is the source of this happiness? (Having the Holy Spirit in our life.)
- Read Philippians 4:4-7. If someone tells you to "rejoice," or "be happy," does that do it? What is at the bottom of the statement "rejoice in the Lord always?" (Trusting God. We present our prayers and petitions to Him, and if we trust Him, peace will enter our hearts.)
- Is this peace logical? (No! The text says it "transcends all understanding." God can do the impossible. We just need to trust in Him.)
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Again, we have a text that tells us to "be joyful." What does this text suggest is the way to joy? (Be grateful to God. Be in contact with God through prayer. If you are constantly thanking God for His blessings to you, it lifts your spirit.)
- Read Luke 12:15. Think of all of the texts that we have read and studied in this lesson. What assumptions did we start with about happiness? (That happiness had to do with wealth and possessions.)
- What have we learned is the true source of happiness and joy? (A relationship with God. Life does not consist of what we own. A Spirit-filled life is the path to joy!)
- Friend, do you want happiness and joy in your life? The path to happiness is not wealth, but rather a relationship with God. Will you invite the Holy Spirit into your life right now to begin to walk the path to peace, trust and joy?
- Next week: Daily Wisdom.