Happiness or Holiness?
What is it you want out of life? Have you every really seriously thought about what God wants for your life? Is the answer to those two questions the same?
If people were to be honest – even followers of Christ – most would say they would want to be happy. Yet, I can’t find one Scripture which supports this desire! Even the Declaration of Independence states this: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Note it states, “the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.” Happiness is not a guaranteed right…only the pursuit of it is. Why is that? Because happiness is based on our circumstances and how we feel about them. Most people try to arrange their circumstances so they will be happy, but even those arrangements and expectations can backfire.
Let’s go back to the second question. What does God want for our lives? The answer…God is more interested in your holiness than your happiness. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Pursue peace with everyone and the sanctification (holiness) without which no one will see the LORD.” Did you get that? God demands our holiness. Holiness is related to righteous living and the pursuit of completion. Jesus said in the great Sermon on the Mount, “…You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). In essence, Jesus is saying, pursue holiness. God wants you to be holy.
So what is holiness? Simply, being set apart. You are to be different – not odd, but special. People ought to be able to tell you belong to Jesus, by what you say, how you act, what you believe, how you communicate, and how you use the gifts He has given to serve. The old hymn, Higher Ground says, “I’m pressing on the upward way, new heights I’m gaining everyday…a higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” Don’t you want to be on higher ground so you can see God better?
That same passage in Hebrews 12 says that discipline brings us to share God’s holiness. It takes work. It takes time. No one that I know of has arrived. However, I know many who have quit or just stand around or just sit. I’m certain those are not the way to holiness.
The OT describes in meticulous detail what the Israelites had to do to pursue holiness in a relationship with God. It enveloped their entire lives. As far as I know, God has not changed. Our approach is different because now we have Jesus as our Savior and the Holy Spirit as our guide, but God’s plan for us to be holy as He is holy hasn’t changed. What steps are you taking?
Are you pursuing holiness?