Essay on Happiness & Fulfillment

Many in the world live under the following two assumptions:

1- "Being Happy is my Goal."

2- "I will be happy if I am fulfilled (if my needs are met)."

These two driving motives have made us the unhappiest and most unfulfilled people there ever was. Why? Because these two innocent assumptions on "how to live" are totally opposed to Jesus' brand of LIFE. And His brand of live is the only one that will totally meet all your needs! Sadly, many who profess to know Jesus know even less about His abundant life! Many Christians have adopted worldly perspectives because their loyalty is still to the world as opposed to Jesus.

HAPPINESS AS A GOAL?

Who ever proposed the idea that we need to be happy to live a good life? Does this person even know what happiness is? Doesn't this person know that the world is an unfair place and that happiness eludes the majority? Here's another thing I want to find out–who ever said things had to be "fair" or "even"? Is the world "fair"? Is being born poor "fair"? Is being blessed with less talents "even" or "fair"? Is having all your possessions destroyed by a tornado "fair"? All these assumptions lead us away completely from Jesus' definitions of "fairness" and "happiness".

Can happiness be found? Is it something we should look for? How do we look for it? Where do we find it? The Bible, as always, corrects our perspective:

(Ecclesiastes 2:26 NIV) To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Apparently, happiness is a gift of God given to those who please Him. Jesus expands on this verse in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-12.

(Matthew 5:3-12 NIV) Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Do you know what "blessed" means? It comes from the Greek word "makarios", meaning extreme happiness; being in a state of bliss; being completely fulfilled, in need of nothing. Jesus says you will be happy if you are identifying yourself with these "attitudes", or motives. Jesus says, "if you are merciful, you will be happy, because you will receive mercy." There is not one singular answer to happiness, it seems. Happiness is the RESULT of living a life that pleases God, just like Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 2:26! Jesus didn't say, "If you feel good, you will be happy, therefore do whatever pleases you." Never in the Bible is godly happiness associated with how one may feel. Feelings are fleeting. At one moment they are there, the next moment they are gone. If we were to depend on them to define our attitude on life, we would be very unstable and not trustworthy. (Gee, sounds like we live in a world that's already like that, huh?)

(Ecclesiastes 7:14 NIV) When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.

HAPPINESS IS THE RESULT OF RIGHTEOUS LIVING

Friend, happiness comes to you when you OBEY God. It is the result of OBEYING His Word. To obey God you must know what He says in the Bible. You cannot know God's will or please Him unless you know His Word, the Bible. There is no other way around it. In fact, this is exactly how Jesus concludes His Sermon on the Mount:

(Matthew 7:24-27 NIV) "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

For more on this topic concerning Happiness Through Obedience commit yourself to doing the yearly series In His Footsteps…

HOW ARE WE FULFILLED?

Along with "moral relativism" (basically, there is no absolute truth or authority on morality) the "morality of fulfillment" has tainted the minds and consciences of people. This new "morality of fulfillment" appeals to the "don't make anyone feel bad about their choices" ideology of the "politically correct" crowd. People who are enslaved by this mindset believe they will attain fulfillment by exercising their wills and desires unhindered. They say things like: I must express who I am. Let me Be. I must do what is best for me. God wants me to be a whole person, and I cannot be whole if I am bound by "traditional" morality. This is who I am and I must express that.

These people believe that fulfillment can come by divorce, "marriage", "re-marriage", "alternate lifestyles", rebellion, homosexuality, abortion, incest, pornography, voyeurism, masturbation, illicit sex, use of drugs and alcohol, smoking, clubbing, "dancing", "partying", cheating, lying, and any other activity or way of thinking that may falsely promote a "sense of fulfillment" that is ungodly. These are very obvious, as Paul says in Galatians 5:19-21. Why do we "run after" these things while very much knowing they are no good? Because they sometimes produce a feeling of satisfaction! They satisfy the sinful nature! They feel good! If they didn't feel good we wouldn't bother pursuing them, I tell you. But are they fulfilling? My friend, they are NOT! They perpetuate dependence on fleeting moments of "joy" and "pleasure" and destroy the integrity and sense of responsibility and accountability in each other. They destroy your vision and your opportunities for growth and self-actualization. In other words, these things damage relationships—they are roadblocks to the very thing that will bring us true fulfillment in God’s Kingdom.

We are running around trying to "find" our life–and we loose it big time!

(Matthew 16:24-27 NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done."

YOUR FLESH CANNOT BE FULFILLED–ONLY YOUR SOUL, IN JESUS

Friend, get this straight– unless you die to yourself, you will not be fulfilled, nor happy!!! Your flesh cannot be satisfied, only your soul can. And your soul can only be satisfied in Jesus. Isn't that one of the Beatitudes Jesus gave? Matthew 5:6 — "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

Don't allow your feelings to dictate your conscience. Only OBEDIENCE should do that. It is funny that people who live their lives by "how they feel" judge obedient people as being "legalistic". We need to get straight the difference between legalism and holiness. The Pharisees were judged to be legalistic by Jesus because they were following traditions of men rather than God's Word (Mark 7:1-13). Holiness comes by OBEDIENCE to God's word, particularly when you don't feel like obeying!

(Romans 6:19-23 NIV) I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Interesting that in these verses Paul explains how faith and deeds are required for salvation, agreeing with James (James 2:14-20)! Although it is a free gift that we receive when we believe and are baptized, in order to keep it we must be holy.

(2 Corinthians 7:1 NIV) Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

(Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV) You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

(Hebrews 12:10-14 NIV) Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

After reading these verse, would you agree that holiness is equivalent to legalism? Do these passages suggest to you that you must do whatever you feel like doing in order to be holy? Don't these verse demand OBEDIENCE to produce holiness in your life? With holiness you will see the Lord-you will be fulfilled!

So there you have it. Instead of running around trying to make sense of your life, why don't you just submit to God (the first Beatitude) and walk humbly with him?

(Micah 6:8 NIV) He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

If you allow yourself to be transformed in mind and heart, friend, you will appreciate the gift of happiness that comes from God. Now, of course, this is easier said than done. I agree. There is no quick road to happiness here. It just takes honest to goodness work, patience and endurance. Aren't those the very things we need anyway?

(James 1:2-4 NIV) Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Look at that! James says "consider it pure joy" when facing trials! Whoa! "But… I don't feel good when trials come!", you may say. Don't forget the encouragement from Ecclesiastes:

(Ecclesiastes 7:14 NIV) When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.

God made trials to "better" you, to "complete" you, yes, to "fulfill" you! AMEN!

In conclusion, what is the evidence of a truly blessed (happy) and fulfilled life?

1- Persecution (Blessed are the persecuted)

2- Trials (James 1:2-4)

What is the attitude of a blessed and fulfilled person?

1- The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24)

2- Rejoicing

3- The Beatitudes

(Romans 5:3-5 NIV) Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

If we are open to the suffering we are appointed to, our relationships with others will be deeper and our intimacy with the Spirit of God will bring us peace and joy beyond understanding… Philippians 4:4-7. Patience is key while we are suffering. It allows us to give the benefit of the doubt and not hold anything against others. The quality of the relationships we make is tested by trials. If these relationships are being built in love (being that you are firmly grounded in your faith in Christ) they will be very satisfying to you and you will see God in the midst of your life. If the relationships are broken you have to examine how your actions may be contributing to the problem.

Proven character allows us to be contributors and edifiers through difficult situations rather than demanders and destroyers. Here's where we need to learn to USE our feelings rather than BE USED by them. Use your feelings to empathize and sympathize with others. Let your feelings drive you to mend relationships. Don't let your feelings use you to end relationships or seek to demean others or feel sorry for yourself. Let your feelings bring convergence rather than divergence. That is why this proven character brings hope. You will be a person that brings hope into situations that look hopeless, like our Lord and Master did. This hope comes because we have the love of God in our hearts. Through the Holy Spirit we have access to this love IF we disregard the desires of the flesh; if we see past the flesh (our desires and divergent feelings) and look into the needs of the brethren even though we might be suffering.

Only armed with these attitudes and the weapons of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) will you be able to build intimate and fulfilling relationships. Out of these you will reap joy, fulfillment and purpose as a minister of God's goodness and graciousness. I’ll leave you with this encouragement:

(1 Timothy 6:6-12 NIV) But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

May God bless you in your pursuit of righteousness and holiness.

Pedro Gelabert

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Pedro G. Gelabert <///><

Pedro-Gelabert@nullusa.net

http://www.licoc.org/gelabert.htm

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. — Galatians 2:20

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