Happy or Holy?

Our goal as believers is to strive for holiness.  Not just for ourselves but for our fellow believers.  It should also be our prayer for those who don't yet know Jesus. 

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However, in our personal conflict avoiding society, we are often settling for far less...happiness. 

"If it makes them happy..." has become the mantra and wish of our generation and many of us, as Christians, have fallen for it.  We may not personally agree with the choices that they make, but instead of taking a stand for holiness, we settle for wishing them happiness. 

Happiness is easy.  It costs you nothing to wish someone happiness.  Happiness has no conviction other than happiness be the goal.  The greatest evil to happiness is that which denies someone the happiness they seek.  Happiness says that relationship must be preserved at all costs beyond condition.  Which is what makes happiness, in our society, one of the biggest hindrances to holiness.

For the sake of happiness (or peace), I have seen women in relationships settle for living together rather than marriage.  Because marriage is hard and mentioning it to him, makes him unhappy.  After all, commitment to a lifelong relationship speaks of conviction toward God and toward a life of self sacrifice to another.  Why ruin all of our happiness for that?

For the sake of happiness, I continually see Christian men and women (and youth) "liking" statuses on Facebook that Jesus would have nothing to do with.  We don't want to lose the relationship by being critical or judgmental so we will affirm those people in their sin and hope that our "like" for their happiness will win them over.  I can't tell you how many I have seen affirming same sex relationships and celebrating that which brings pain to many families who wish for holiness for their sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. 

For the sake of happiness, I have seen those caught in addictions (alcohol, drugs, porn) stay silent or excuse them instead of crying out for the help that they need that may lead toward holiness.  The status quo is easy and gives brief glimmers of happiness in-between the regret and vicious cycle that ensues.  Holiness demands change and threatens to take away those fleeting glimmers of happiness they have come to live for.

For the sake of happiness, believers settle for feeling good about God.  We celebrate our closeness to Him through the way that a worship service makes us feel.  Our feelings therefore dictate our closeness to God rather than our obedience.  Obedience is hard.  It speaks of conviction and doesn't always feel good.  So we settle for being happy with our relationship with God instead of striving for holiness.

James 4:7-8 states "Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."    

"Draw" is a command, not a feeling or hopeful thought of happiness.  It speaks of things that we can do to draw near to God (not earn His affection).  James is speaking to believers and equating closeness with God to obedience.  It is to "double-minded" believers like us he is speaking to, who so easily want to preserve relationships with others at the cost of our closeness to Christ. 

He reminds us that Jesus didn't die for us so that we might be "happy" but holy...a set apart people for Him, and Him first.  We would do well to remember that Jesus came to make sinners holy...not happy.  It is the duty of every believer called by His name to call others to this holiness that Christ offers...even at the cost of their happiness.


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