“Willie had been a star athlete, and outstanding
quarterback on his high school football team.
He was ready to go to a major college on a full
Then he was involved in a serious car accident,
and his legs were injured.
The doctor said Willie would never walk again.
By the time he got to class, Willie was walking,
but very slowly.
He had made an excellent recovery, although he
certainly wasn't the great athlete that he had once
of the subjects we cover in class is how to grow in
Among some 15 suggestions for growth, one I
always make is that students learn to walk faster, to
put some excitement and energy into their lives—to get a
little get-up-and-go in their get-along.
After offering these suggestions in Willie's
class, I went around the room and asked each student
which one they needed to work on.
When I got to Willie, he simply said, “Walk
Everyone got a good chuckle out of that, but we also got
an example of a healthy, positive attitude” (Tate).
Here was a young man who experienced a tragic
event, but he didn't curse God, continued to love life,
and could even joke about his own situation.
Sometimes a person will ask a minister: “Does God want
me to be happy.”
That simple question has an interesting answer
when we look at the New Testament.
The answer is both “No” and “Yes”. That may sound
like a strange answer, so let me explain.
The Greeks seemed to have a word for almost
everything, and they had three for happiness.
One literally meant “goodly demon,” and it might
be akin to our idea of good fortune that brings
satisfaction. Interestingly, this word is never used in
the New Testament, and this may be the case because
demons in the New Testament were always uniformly evil
The next word meant a good feeling based on outward
This is still how many people think about
If I can make a passing grade, or have this
particular job, or have this amount in my bank account,
or have this toy, or achieve this goal, or have this
family situation, then I will be happy.
You see their circumstances control their
Interestingly, this word is never used in the New
Testament either (Braley).
So does God want you to be happy? Well, happiness
in the sense of good fortune or in the sense of perfect
circumstances is not found in the New Testament.
So, for these kinds of happiness, the answer
would be “No”.
God did not allow this kind of happiness in the
There was a third word, however, that the Greeks
had for happiness which meant joy based on an inner
quality of peace and contentment (Braley).
This kind of happiness is a deep-down happiness
which does not depend upon externals; it is happiness
from the inside out (Anderson).
In fact, the word used in the New Testament for
this kind of happiness is “joyful” or “blessed”, and it
is based on a person's relationship with the divine or
the supernatural (Harrison).
So, for this kind of happiness that does not
depend on the externals, the answer would be “Yes”.
In fact, let's look quickly at several passages
which show us 8 components of God's happiness.
The first passage is John 13:13-17: “You call Me
Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I
then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you
ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that you should
do as I have done to you.
Most assuredly I say to you, a servant is not
greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater
than he who sent him.
If you know these things, blessed are you if you
You will be blessed or happy when you learn to serve
one another. Those disciples must have been somewhat
shocked and humiliated when Jesus took up the water bowl
and the towel and began the customary washing of the
feet that was a slave's job.
His words must have made a real impact when He
told them that He was their Teacher and Master, and if
He Himself had washed their feet, then they should learn
to be humble enough to wash each other's feet!
So often, they had been arguing and fussing about
who would be greatest in Jesus' new kingdom, trying to
get the top seats and the highest positions.
But Jesus showed them that service is what makes
for true greatness.
We think of the great and powerful person at the
top of the pyramid, don't we?
But Jesus just inverts that pyramid and shows us
that greatest and most powerful leaders in His kingdom
must serve from the bottom up!
Happiness is not found in lording it over others
and giving orders, but it is found in serving others and
doing your best to meet their physical, emotional, and
You yourselves have told me the wonderful joy
that you experience when you teach others the Gospel, or
when you rebuild after a disaster, or when you help
others get through an illness, or when you repair
someone's property, when your advice helps someone to
keep their marriage together, or when you take children
in this congregation on an outing, or when you offer
comfort to another member during the loss of a loved
happiness is serving others.
The next passage is John 20:29: “Jesus said to him,
'Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed.
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have
are those who have not seen and yet believe in Christ as
God's divine Son, Israel's powerful King, and the
Gentiles' holy Rescuer.
Let's not be too hard on Thomas for his unbelief.
Hadn't Jesus Himself warned that others would
follow Him claiming to be Israel's Messiah?
Thomas was well aware of the beating, the
hammering, and the spearing at the cross and the burial
of Jesus in a sealed and guarded tomb. Despite Jesus'
repeated predictions and various reports by others,
Thomas wanted to see for himself firsthand that Jesus
was really alive.
Jesus appears before him and challenges his
disbelief! Thomas then believes and confesses Jesus to
be his Lord.
Then Jesus makes the statement that others who
have not seen Him will be blessed or happy when they
will also believe in Him.
Do you believe this morning that Jesus is God's
gift to bring salvation, righteousness, and
reconciliation with God to all mankind?
Have you investigated His claims to divinity, the
prophecies pointing to His kingship, and the events in
the Gospels that show His grace offered to the Gentiles
The apostle Paul affirms that Jesus was made sin so that
we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2
Corinthians 5:21), and the apostle Peter affirms that by
His stripes we have been spiritually healed (1 Pet.
Happiness is believing in Christ as your hope for
both an abundant life here and an eternal life in the
The next passage is Acts 20:35: “And remember the
words of the Lord Jesus that He said, 'It is more
blessed to give than to receive.” The apostle is not
just mouthing pious platitudes here.
Paul had given generously as he worked with the
church in Ephesus for about 3 years.
He reminded the elders to whom he made this
statement that he had worked tirelessly not only to
edify the members there but also to pay for his own
He had generously given both his time and his money.
Jesus' lifestyle was one of generous giving as
well, culminating in the very giving of His blood to
ratify a new covenant, to atone for sins, and to
purchase the church.
Generous giving will lead to greater happiness
than selfish hoarding.
A college boy once asked, “What's wrong with
His teacher replied: “I have never met or known
of a greedy person who was truly happy.
Greed by its very nature is always seeking more.
The greedy person is never satisfied, never
fulfilled, never happy.”
This same teacher also promotes the idea of
becoming a “ten-fiver” in order not to become greedy.
A “ten-fiver” is a Christian who devotes at least
10% of their income to the church and five hours out of
their week to doing voluntary work or community service.
“Larry Stewart worked as a door to door salesman
when his company went out business.
He hadn't eaten in two days and went into the
Dixie Diner where he ordered a breakfast that he
couldn't pay for.
The owner had compassion upon him and acted like
he had found a $20 bill saying to Stewart: 'Son, you
must have dropped this.’ Stewart said if felt like a
fortune to him, and he vowed to God that if he would
bless him financially, he would help others as well.
The Lord did bless him in a business, and Stewart
became the secret Santa who ended up giving away $1.3
million in 100 bills over a 26 year period to those in
later remarked: ‘After all, isn't that what we're put
here on earth for—to help others’” (Larson-Elshof)?
An elder once made a statement similar to this:
“A Christian who holds is a member who molds, but a
Christian who gives is a member who lives!”
Happiness is giving generously.
The next passage is Romans 4:5-8: “But to him who
does not work but believes on Him who justifies the
ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just
as David also describes the blessedness of the man to
whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
'Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and
whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the
Lord shall not impute sin.”
The apostle Paul makes some very interesting
After showing that all mankind has sinned and
fallen short of God's glory in chapters 1-3, Paul starts
showing how the Gospel is God's power to salvation.
He uses Abraham as an example to show how one is
made righteous in God's eyes by their faith, and not
One commentator puts it this way: “[Paul's] main
point is that Gentiles ... come in by faith to covenant
membership, exactly as Abraham did himself. ... To have
one's sin forgiven, not reckoned up or calculated
against one's name, is precisely what God intended when
He called Abraham in the first place.
Among the many glorious things about being
Christian, this will always come near the top of the
list: that one's sins have been forgiven, covered over,
David celebrated those 1000 years before Calvary
... How much more should we celebrate it today”
Happiness is receiving righteousness and experiencing
The next passage is James 1:2-4: “My brethren, count
it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing
that the testing of your faith produces patience.
But let patience have its perfect work, that you
may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
One commentator rightly noted: “The aim of
[God's] testing is not to destroy or afflict, but to
purge and refine. ... The meaning of patience transcends
the idea of bearing affliction; it includes the idea of
standing fast under pressure, with a staying power that
turns adversities into opportunities” (Nelson Study
Christian teacher in one of our brotherhood schools gave
these good pieces of advice: “If anyone could tell you
the shortest, surest way to happiness and all
perfection, he must tell you to thank and praise God for
everything that happens to you.
For it is sure whatever seeming calamity happens
to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it
into a blessing. ... You could not do more for yourself
than by this thankful spirit, for it turns all that it
touches into happiness,” [and then he also adds another
idea]: “My wife Bobbie once made a statement after we'd
lost some money in a business deal, and it stayed with
me because it's so simple and yet so profound. 'If you
can count your losses in money,' she said, 'you haven't
How very true that is!
And if we can keep this in mind, we'll have a far
easier time being grateful to God” (Tate). Trials and
testing usually involve some discomfort and anguish, but
their trauma often helps us to see clearly what really
is important in life and in our own personal spiritual
Happiness is being refined through God's testing.
The next passage is James 1:22-25: “Be doers of the
word, and not hearers only deceiving yourselves.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a
doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a
mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, an
immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty
and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a
doer of the word, this one will be blessed in what he
Don't we like James' practicality and reminding us that
meditation is not enough?
We need application too!
Happy are those who are doers of the Word and not
Someone has said, “We need to turn our
meditations into shoe leather, work gloves, encouraging
words, and pats on others' backs.”
James would commend us on our reading of God's
word this year, but he would be quick to ask: “How have
you been applying what you've read?”
Happiness is doing and applying God's Word.
The next passage is Revelation 14:13: “Then I heard a
voice from heaven saying to me, 'Blessed are the dead
who die in the Lord from now on'. 'Yes,' says the
Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, and their
works follow them'.” One brother wrote this good
thought: “Jesus never looks better than He does at
[one's] deathbed. ... I've heard of atheists who
recanted on the deathbeds, but I've never heard of a
Christian who [cursed] his service to Christ. ... There
are only two places to die—in the Lord or out of Him” (McGugiggan).
Another commentator adds: “They are blessed
because their works follow them.
God will not forget all they have endured in
loyalty to the faith. ... Their works follow them in the
sense that there can be no separation between what a
[Christian] is and what a [Christian] does.”
You know, none of us knows how we are going to
die, but the how is not nearly as important as the who.
Those who die in the Lord have the promise that their
loyalty to Christ and their good deeds will never be
lost before God. Happiness is dying in our Lord.
The last passage is Revelation 16:15: “Behold, I am
coming as a thief.
Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his
garments, lest he walks naked and they see his shame.”
Someone has said, “The best way to prepare for
the coming of Christ is to remember always the presence
of Christ as you live” (Barclay in Rowell).
Someone else noted that the kind of preparedness
that Jesus requires must cut through the deceptive
propaganda of Satan that would lull us into focusing
only on the here and now (Mounce).
The story is told about a German prison camp in
World War 2 where there was one barracks for the
Americans and another for the British and both were
separated by fence.
Unknown to the guards, the Americans had a little
homemade radio that would get news from the outside. A
prisoner in each barrack knew the ancient Gaelic
language, and the one from the American barracks would
share a few headlines at the fence with the other
prisoner from the British barracks.
One day, the news came that the German high
command had surrendered and the war was over!
After the British barracks got that news, there
was a roar of celebration!
Life in the camp was transformed.
Prisoners walked around singing and shouting,
they waved at the guards, and laughed at the dogs.
When the Germans finally heard the news three
days later, they fled into the dark, leaving the gates
The next morning Americans and British soldiers walked
out of the camp as free men.
Yet, they had really been set free three days
earlier when they heard the news that the war was over”
(Bakke in Rowell).
When Jesus comes again, our war with Satan and
his forces will end, they will try to flee, but Jesus
will judge them, and then all the saints will fly to the
Lord as people freed from any further battle!
Happiness is watching for His return and
keeping our garments or living godly lives.
In 1985 a book came out written by five people called
Habits of the Heart.
The writers interviewed over 200 people in a
five year period to try to understand and to describe
Here are some insights they gave from the book's
last chapter: “But we [Americans] have never before
faced a situation that called our deepest assumptions so
radically into question.
Our problems today are not just political.
They are moral and have to do with the meaning of
life. ... Perhaps common worship ... is the most
important thing of all. ... Our material belongings have
not brought us happiness” (Bella et. al.).
Isn't that amazing?
These sociologists are saying that we need
we need worship!
And we need to realize that happiness is not in
Twenty years later, there conclusions still ring
happiness is what we need: serving others, believing in
His Son, giving generously, receiving righteousness and
experiencing forgiveness, being refined, applying His
word, dying in our Lord, watching for His return, and
living godly lives.
God wants you to have a happiness that is beyond
just good fortune and external circumstances.
Jesus offers you that deep-down happiness from
the inside out.
The Holy Spirit invites you to a joyful and
blessed life. Take your focus off of politics and
your focus on God's happiness with its worship and
the eternal help you with the here and now!
Have you experienced His forgiveness?
Would you be dying outside of Jesus or in Jesus?
Would Jesus' return cause you shame or praise?
Won't you begin “walking faster” as you seek