Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart.
Matthew 5:6 (NASB)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
I heard some interesting insights recently on a Christian podcast. The comment was made about a “cult of happiness.” That got my attention because I believe it describes a dangerous mentality and deceptive desire that leads to greater sadness and harm than the attempts to assuage the sadness seek to relieve. The desire to be happy, and the belief that happiness is a right causes great stress and unrealistic expectations – a source of great unhappiness. An unbridled desire to be happy will lead people to deny reality in their own lives, overlook the suffering of the world around us, and reduce happiness to a checklist of achievements, possessions, or experiences.
I am personally in favor of being happy. I would much rather focus on the good in life. I believe that a cheerful heart is good medicine (cf. Proverbs 17:22). But happiness is best served as a secondary pursuit. And the danger of deciding what to do based on some sort of happiness quotient will miss the mark of true joy in God and his righteousness.
The pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence as a right, along with life and liberty. Such pursuit must never, however, take us outside the boundaries of God’s ways or be embraced apart from his righteousness. God offers a different approach: Find happiness in pursuing God’s righteousness. Discover the way of obedience as a fuller embrace of joy and satisfaction. Jesus did that perfectly for us, and for the joy set before him endured the cross and is now seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2). His righteousness is a gift we all need. It fully satisfies those who embrace it by faith.