Thomas Jefferson once penned the words that all Americans have the rights of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" which makes for a powerful statement as a nation...but is the pursuit of happiness always good? The answer is no. Happiness, as an emotion, isn't bad (just like any other emotion) but the pursuit of it can become an idol or lead us into sin or danger. Let me explain.
I had a friend, she was raised in a Christian home and knew right from wrong. She did all the things she was supposed to do. She did well in school, went to college, got a job and got married to a Christian man. But she was unhappy. She longed for more adventure and excitement. So, when she met a cute guy who liked her, she was tempted to give in to an affair. She turned for advice to an old friend who encouraged her to "do what made her happy." She took this advice as permission to begin an affair that eventually led to a painful divorce and years of drifting away from her faith.
In Proverbs 21:17 we read "whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man, he who loves wine and oil will not be rich."
Happiness is not bad (God made it) and pleasure isn't sinful...but seeking it above all else can lead to terrible choices and destructive consequences. We must always try to be sure that our pursuit of happiness doesn't trump our pursuit of godliness. We must seek to temper our urges for pleasure with our desire to do good and avoid sin. We must find acceptable ways to find pleasure in good things (intimacy within marriage for example instead of in an affair) that God provides for us.
So I would encourage you to consider a new phrase, not for a nation but for the people of God. May we enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of godliness...and in that, may you find true joy; not just fleeting pleasure.
Leave a Reply.