Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Secret to Happiness – Part 1

James 4:1-3 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

We are going through a Sermon series at our church on the book of James, and I find it to be a divine coincidence that I run into various articles bases upon passages from this, one of my favorite 66 books of the Bible. In this article, Pastor Robert Charles Sproul of Sanford, Florida points out that this world is marked by warfare. Wars, Terrorists, hostilities, fighting and battles at home and abroad – there’s conflicts all around us. In the passage above, James says that those quarrels, disputes, and contentions come from within, from the falleness of our hearts. I heard that every war involves someone wanting what somebody else has … it takes crossing a border line. The motivation for these conflicts is envy, or covetousness. Conflict is the fruit of covetous hearts that want what others have.

Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

It is not inherently wrong to want something we do not have. James’ statement that we do not have because we do not ask implicitly calls us to ask God to give us our desires. We should fell no shame when we desire “good’ things as long as our desire does not make good things into idols. Sometimes, we ask with the wrong motives or in the wrong spirit for what we do not have. I remember hearing a message on Christian radio about coveting - to desire inordinately; to desire that which it is unlawful to obtain or possess; in a bad sense. This Ten Commandment sin brutally exposes our human deficiency of the flesh desires because it is a sin of our selfish inward thoughts and desires. What does this mean?

Proverbs 21:17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor.”

Pastor Bob says, consider that we ask for things because we believe they will make us happy. This turns into covetousness when we believe that we have an inalienable right to pursue pleasure as the source of happiness. Maximum pleasure is our culture’s chief goal, but happiness and pleasure are profoundly different. I’m not opposed to pleasure, but remember sin is tempting because it can be pleasurable in the short term – it is fleeting and only for a season. We sin because we think it will feel good. Every time we sin, we believe the original lie of Satan, who tempts us that we will be happy if we get the pleasure we want. Hedonism - excessive pursuit of fleshly pleasures as a meaning of life, which defines the good in terms of the pleasurable, is the oldest philosophy to oppose God. However, sin never brings happiness – the state of inner delight, blessedness, and the contentment. It is a bottomless hole that can never be filled that drives us to say: “If I just had ________________ , I’d finally be happy” - (fill in the blank with anything other than God).

Ecclesiastes 7:4 The heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.

So, what the secret to happiness? Let’s find out the answer tomorrow.

In Christ, Brian

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