Monday, March 8, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness?

"I've read so many verses that reveal God's desire for me to value what He values and to help those around me. How, then, should I live? How can I love what God treasures instead of pursuing what the world treasures?"
The above was taken from a wonderful devotional called Hope Lives. The question is a real thought stopper. The last year, or more, the LORD has really been showing me how very rich I am and the many ways that we have fallen subconsciously into reaching the next level of American achievement. 


"1 Timothy 6:6 "True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth." 
We've been some-what trained into pursuing our own happiness and thinking that nothing is wrong with that. Is it wrong to pursue our own happiness? The funny thing is, I think this is the wrong question to ask. But before I can treasure what God treasures, I better deal with something ... do I trust the LORD with my happiness enough to let it go? 

A funny little thing happened when Steve and I felt "that feeling" that the LORD wanted us to bring home another child. We kept putting to death what "we wanted"...financial security, acceptance from others, time for "me" ("you know, you can't be happy and healthy if you don't have time for YOU" we've been told); new carpet and tile, vacations (thanks Mom and Dad, without you, we really wouldn't go anywhere); additions to the house; and on and on the list could go. The funny thing that happened? We became happier as we followed God's leading to minister to the least, the most vulnerable, the smallest person who is greatest at risk. I have become more grateful for what we do have and desire less what the "world" might say I need. 

1 Tim. 6:17-18 "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and be generosity and willing to share"
I have seen my parents live this out their whole lives! When I was very young, we were VERY poor...no exaggeration! It never mattered. If someone needed something, my parents always helped or shared in any way they could. 
In the devotional Hope Lives, the author writes "Relationship is central to Christianity - The most important commandment is to love God, and the second is to love your neighbor. I think this applies to wealth. I'm to accept it as a loving gift from my Father, and I'm to enjoy it in relationship with other people. It's all about relationships; it's nothing to do with money." 
I have seen this lived out in my parents, whether there was little or lots, people were always more important than the money, and the money was just there (small of big) to be used in serving the LORD and loving others. 
Back to "How can I love what God treasures instead of pursuing what the world treasures? and can the Pursuit of Happiness be apart of this question? (Not THE question). 
Listen to what Paul has to say about pursuing what the world treasures..."...for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils." (1 Tim. 6:7-10). 

When I love others by giving to them from what the LORD has entrusted to me, and serving them from my heart, especially the poor, sick, widowed, orphaned and hurting, what the world treasures will no longer entice me (well, may be clothes...but I'm trying to get better at that!). And by pursuing the happiness of others I will find my own happiness.

16 comments:

  1. I have been wrestling with this same thing...

    It is so easy to fall in step with what 'the world' tells us in important...

    This life that we are blessed to be living is all about relationship...
    relationship with our God...
    and with others....

    The world does tell us to put ourselves first...
    ....such a lie!!!

    Your last line sums it all up...
    "And by pursuing the happiness of others I will find my own happiness."

    Thanks for a beautiful post!!!

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  2. You've summed up so beautifully everything on my heart!
    Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,
    Kim

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  3. God just used you to answer something I struggled with even tonight!

    Thanks for sharing what He placed on your heart!

    Love and blessings,
    Jill

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  4. Oh Shonni- I love this post. Thank you for writing it. My heart has been bombarded in many different directions lately- I so need the Lord to clarify. I love your quotes!

    Thank you !!
    Blessings,
    Jean

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  5. Thank you for these encouraging words :)

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  6. great post Shonni... I could sit here and write out a long comment agreeing! We don't need to seek anything but HIS KINGDOM, HIS WAYS... all of the stuff we need will be added unto us. (Matt6)
    Seeking Him and walking the love walk, just as you said is the only path to true happiness. You have such a beautiful heart Shonni. Just beautiful.

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  7. Oh my goodness gracious----beautifully said! You obviously had the best role models in your parents, my friend...you're getting it right too :)

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  8. For one purpose - to bring Glory to God our Father!
    Love ya Shonni!

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  9. You have such an amazing heart Shonni, Christ shines right through it! I'm still waiting for that devotional you should write... so much wisdom to share!

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  10. This post is beautiful Shonni.

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  11. Like many others that have commented I have struggled with much of this. As I teach my children that self sacrifice is the deepest form of love you can offer,it goes against everything they are bombarded with daily.
    Thank you for this post Shonni, it is a confirmation for me that as difficult as it is to drill this into my kids, I am on the right path.

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  12. What a great post! I want this for my life! I want to desire more of Christ and less of this world! He has changed my desires drastically, but I still struggle constantly having the right perspective. But, God will finished what he has started! Thanks for allowing God to use you in the lives of others:)

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  13. so so good!

    There was a missionary that spoke in chapel at my University this semester and she said something like, "we often fall into the lie that the American dream is God's dream for us." It totally clicked in my heart and mind at that moment...what is the point of pursuing happiness and comfort in this life? Those things are more often than not out of selfishness, they are different than the joy of the Lord or His peace, they are pure selfishness. A friend of mine said it so well, "Will we pretend the rest of the world is not hurting so we can live in comfort?"

    These verses have really hit me hard lately:
    Luke 6:24-26 "But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

    Wowww....wwwoooowwwww.

    There is this deep lie in me as a product of this culture to live striving for comfort, safety, money, happiness. I am beginning to see that these things are a facade (which I guess I shouldn't be surprised about considering Satan is a piece of trash liar) of what Christ offers us.

    I guess all that rambling comes down to this: I only want to strive after Jesus and His heart. As Jesus said, "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 and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" Mark 8:34-36

    Temporary "comfort" and "happiness" are just not worth it...absolutely not.

    (Now actually living this...that's a whole other thing. O Lord, help!)

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  14. So, so, so true!!

    What a blessing that you have had your parents as an example in your life.

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  15. Amen! Thanks for sharing. What a wonderful gift from the Lord that we found each other on the blog world. Blessings of great joy as you are poured out at a drink offering unto the Lord.

    Hugs from Uganda.
    Summer

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  16. I read this yesterday and just read it again. It's good, girl. I think MANY of us deal with this on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing.

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