I have a preacher-friend who sends me and several other preacher-pastors words of encouragement every Sunday morning. This past Sunday, he sent this message: “If you want to be popular, preach happiness; if you want to be unpopular, preach holiness.” As I read his message, I thought of the seriousness of the subject matter. Indeed, we live in a time wherein the most popular preachers and preaching advocate man’s happiness as the ultimate spiritual goal. But what does the Bible say about the subjects of happiness and holiness?
I must admit that I didn’t do an intensive study on the subjects before I wrote this post, but from what I have read, it would seem that the most important theme in the Bible is not happiness, but rather holiness! Just for the sake of clarity, we’re not using the term “holiness” just in the context of perfection or being without sin, but also in the context of being separate and set apart. God calls his people to be “in the world” but not “of the world!” There ought to be an undeniable difference between the world and the people of God. God has a standard of conduct that has been revealed in the Scriptures. The fact that we might not agree with those standards does not give us the right to change them.
From what I am hearing, it seems that the main pursuit of the world is happiness! All common sense and oftentimes human decency is being sacrificed upon the altar of human happiness! Today people are calling “right” what God has labelled as wrong simply because they want to be happy in their wrong-doing! So instead of allowing God to change them so that they might be holy, they seek to change God so that they might be happy! In many cases, instead of attempting to rise to God’s standards, men seek to lower God to their own standards.
They seem to be diametrically opposing standards at first, but when you really think about it, true happiness can only be found in true holiness! The happiness the world advocates is seasonal, temporary and conditional. But real happiness; the real joy that comes only from God, comes from adhering to and being obedient to God’s standards of holiness! When we are being and doing what God wants us to be and do; it is only then that we find real happiness! The happiness that the world offers apart from obedience to God’s standard of holiness is not really happiness at all. Happiness or holiness? You really don’t have to make a choice between the two because one leads to the other! It’s just a matter of getting them in the right order!