God's Man | Sermon | Does God Want Me Happy?
Mythbusters: God Wants Me Happy
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”
- Philippians 4:12-13
“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do…”
- 1 Peter 1:15
So over the last few weeks we have been looking at some commonly held myths about Christianity and just like on the show myth busters we put them to the test. What is a myth? The well regarded Dictionary.com tells us that a myth is a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature. We have adapted this words and created another phrase called the urban legend. These are ideas that have grown from a grain of truth into something that is unbelievable, but we tell the stories because we love the idea of something larger than life.
When it comes to religion there are a lot of myths out there. There are lots of things that people believe that simply aren’t true. Next week we will be discussing several of the myths about God but don’t let me get ahead of myself. This week we will be looking at a myth that hits us right in our comfort zones. The myth that I will be discussing this morning is the myth that God wants me happy.
I say that this myth strikes at our comfort zones as Americans our happiness is paramount. It Is even in our founding documents. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Now I know that happiness in that context is different than how we view it now. At a fundamental level happiness is important to us. You’ll hear in on Christian TV, in books, even in sermons. It is a message that feels very good. It seems right.
God wants me happy. God has good things in for you. God wants you to enjoy your life, to prosper in every way. The problem with a theology like this is that it elevates us to a place where God is serving us. This is where the idea of a celestial Santa Claus comes from and if he doesn’t deliver than we are mad at Him. This idea is not new though. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he says this, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” The truth is that God is a good God. He loves to give good gifts to His children. We however are not here to be served by God. We are here to serve Him.
We started to teach our girls the catechism for young children. The first 3 questions are the ones that stick out to me. The first is, Who Made You. The answer, of course, is God. The second is, what else did God make? That answer is that God made all things. The third question is, why did God make you and all things? This answer is at the crux of what I plan to share with you today. It is the counter to the church of individual happiness. Why did God make everything? He made everything for His Glory. It is not about our individual happiness. It is about His Glory and His Kingdom. The truth is that we serve God not the other way around.
God has called us to be Holy as He is Holy. Peter writes this in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” God knows that our happiness will not lead us to be like him. We will do things that are the opposite of God’s Word. Take a look at marriage. We no longer feel that we need to be faithful to one spouse. As singles we have these desires that God gave us. He wants me to be happy, right? But sinful happiness is not what God is calling us to. God knows that happiness is fleeting. It is based on circumstances. If everything falls into place than I am happy, but let one thing be out of place. Now the pouting starts.
This leads us to Paul and our main text for this message. In Philippians 4 we have a letter written from prison by a prisoner awaiting his sentence. He tells the brothers at Philippi the secret. Take a look at verses 12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”
So here is a situation that is not one that would bring you happiness, being in prison. There is nothing happy about being in prison. I think that this is something that we can all understand. Whether you have ever been involved with a prison ministry, been to prison or visited someone there. Nothing about it brings a smile. But here is Paul saying that he has learned to be content. What is this secret?
To see is we have to jump back to the beginning of this book. Paul found contentment in his purpose. What was the purpose that shaped his life? Paul was called to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. It is in that calling that he received his strength. It is through that faith that he was able to say in the first chapter of Philippians, “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ (v12-13)”. He was content in his position, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly (v14).”
God is doing a work in us for His Glory. Every situation is known by God and is accomplishing something in us all. God uses trouble to build character in us. If you look in Romans 5 verses 3-4, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” God is sanctifying us through the situations and circumstances of life. See 2 Corinthians 4:17, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
God uses temptations to teach us obedience. Jesus said in John 14:15, “if you love me you will obey what I command.” That is a hard teaching. Especially today because this is time we are living in. Temptation screams out of every set of ear buds, every billboard, every TV, every screen we watch or carry. It pulls us in and doesn’t want to let go. God know that we will be tempted. Take a look in 1 Corinthians 10:13 where it says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” What is more important to you? Loving your Lord and Savior or what is calling you?
God uses trespasses to teach us to forgive. In Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Again another hard teaching, is God referring to that guy who cut me off in traffic? What about the person who stole from me? What about the person who ridicules me because I follow Christ, calls me a bigot or attacks me physically for my faith? It is in those situations that I can be truly content. In Matthew 5:11 it says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” The greek word translated to blessed, Makarios, means More than Happy. God suffered for the sake of the message. How much more so will we? How do we begin to increase our appetite for God’s holiness and grow in contentment? How do we go after everything that God has for us? Here are a few ways you can impact your environment.
Choose the relationships around you. In Proverbs 13:20 it says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” You cannot walk this road alone. We are family and no matter what we need each other. Ephesians 4:16 illustrates this for us where it reads, “The whole Body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole Body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
Confront the issues that stop you. Job had to confront his issues. Bitterness was beginning to grip him as he lamented in chapter 21 verses 23-25 he laments, “Some men stay happy until the day they die...others have no happiness at all; they live and die with bitter hearts.” We need to deal with our sin, our hurts, our unbelief and move on. Isaiah cries out to us in chapter 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
Cultivate the purpose within you. There is a race that we all must run. We need to run OUR race and run it to win. Paul explained this to the Ephesians leaders as he left them in Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. Find the purpose that God has put in front of us all. Nothing satisfies, not money, success, fame. Only what we do for Christ will last.
Lastly commit to the One who loves you. It is not about us. It is all about Him. Turn to the back of the book and even this is made plain. Revelation 4:11 reads, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.” If you want to really experience all that God has than follow the prescription laid out in Romans 12, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”
I will leave you with a question that I asked the men during our Men’s Retreat last week. If nothing changes in your situation or it gets worse, is God Enough?