By Ronald Graham
“And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.” Genesis 30:13. This seems like a great name for a son. Asher means “happy” and there is no doubt that having a baby is a happy event. Sadly, he wasn’t named Asher because his mother was happy about him. She was happy for selfish reasons. She was happy about what this meant for her own self. “For the daughters will call me blessed”. She had given birth to many sons and her sister Rachel was barren. Leah felt smug, prideful, and unkind towards her sister. Asher was the sixth son she bore to their shared husband, Jacob, and Leah was waving her success at child-bearing in Rachel’s face. Leah just isn’t a very happy person.
Are you happy? What is it that makes you truly happy? Most of us have certain things that we enjoy, or that we think will make us happy. Food on the table, money in the bank, a new car, a better job, more friends, and any number of other things that I haven’t listed here are thought to bring happiness. We can look into the lives of other people and see that they are happy. After all, they laugh and have so many more things than we do so they must be happy. Are they happy, or maybe they’re just covering up for something that is missing. Money can’t buy happiness. In many lives it brings sorrow and pain. Those who have great wealth are usually not content and seem to want more. Money becomes their god. Other people believe alcohol, drugs, or sex will do the trick. They are never happy. That moment of “pleasure” always fades but the pain from the experience lingers. Still others look to outside entertainment such as sports and vacations. Unfortunately all of these are temporary fixes for a much larger problem. These people seem to be searching for something that seems to be just out of reach. All they know is that they can’t quite get their hands on it.
If wealth and other worldly pleasures could make a person happy, King Solomon would have been the happiest man who ever lived. Yet, with all his wealth and treasures he wasn’t happy. He wrote the book of Ecclesiastes and had much to say about happiness. Solomon tells how he was given great wisdom, great wealth, many wives and concubines, and he tried everything under the sun – eating, drinking, and sex. None of these worldly pleasures brought happiness. The problem was he had turned away from the one who gave him everything and began to allow the worship of idols and pagan gods. He was the richest man who ever lived. In spite of all the worldly pleasures he had he could only describe it all as vanity. None of those pleasures was satisfying or lasting.
King Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes which begins with the following statement; “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:2. After a life of trying everything under the sun, this is his conclusion: frustration, futility, nonsense, even absurdity; all is vanity. If King Solomon could not find happiness in all of the things he possessed, what then can bring happiness to anyone? At the end of his writing in Ecclesiastes he writes “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Fear God. Could it be as simple as that?
Solomon basically ruined his life. He wasn’t happy. Although he had acquired much knowledge, experience, and wisdom, he took years to find what was missing from his life: the fear of God. When someone fears God they are going to respect Him and follow His commandments. To fear God means to reverence God, to love God. If you follow God’s ways and do not live a worldly life your conscience will be clear and won’t have secret things you try to hide from others. Your friends won’t try to draw you away from God, because they will also fear God and honor and respect Him. You won’t have to worry if someone looks at the sites you’ve been browsing on the internet because you won’t have looked at pornography. You won’t feel as if you have to hide the text messages on your phone because there will be nothing to hide. Your job will be easier because you know that ultimately you serve God. “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:22-24. Fear God and live your life for Him.
It is human nature to want to be happy, but for some reason we seek after the wrong things. Only the things of God can bring happiness…true happiness. When we live our life looking for pleasure in worldly things and ignoring God there is no lasting happiness to be found. When the nation of Israel looked to God and honored Him, they prospered. Unfortunately they always went back to worldly ways and turned away from God. One of these rebellious times caused them to go into captivity for 70 years. Jeremiah had prophesied about this captivity and told how long it would last. He also said what would trigger their release from that captivity. “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13. Rebellion to God traps you and holds you captive. Until a person lets go of the false pleasures of the world their unhappy captivity of seeking worldly pleasures will never cease. When you seek God, you will find Him and that will bring true happiness.
Keep in mind, though, that happiness is a fleeting feeling. This or that can make you happy for a short time, but are you content? When I was growing up I always looked forward to going to the fair and riding on the rides. It was lots of fun and I was very happy. Yep, I was happy right up until one of the rides got my stomach upset and I felt queasy for the rest of the day. So much for happiness. I still tried to have fun there, but it was a struggle and not really fun. As I got older I found out that happiness never lasted long. When I finally met Jesus and began to serve Him with my entire life that’s when I found contentment. That contentment brought peace in every aspect of my life. What happens around me may affect my happiness, but it doesn’t take my contentment away.
True joy and happiness is found in what we do for Jesus. Whatever you do, however God uses you, take joy in it. Not in a prideful way, but take joy in the fact that you are serving Him. Only those things done for God will last. The Apostle John lived a long life and served Jesus well. His joy was in knowing that those he had brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus walked in truth. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 1:4. All of the Apostles knew Jesus well and spent years learning from Him. After Christ ascended into Heaven it was up to them to spread the Gospel. It wasn’t easy for them because Christians were severely persecuted, but that didn’t stop them. They may not have always been happy, but they were content knowing they served Jesus. They knew the truth and because of them we have the Gospel. If we share that Gospel of truth we will also share John’s joy and will find contentment.
The Apostle Paul found himself in many diverse situations as he served Jesus. Sometimes he was cared for by those he witnessed to, but sometimes he was beaten and jailed. In all of this he found contentment. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11. The word translated “content” comes from the Greek word “autarkes”. It means: “1. Sufficient for one’s self, strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support. 2. Independent of external circumstances. 3. Contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest”. All of us need to be like Paul and be content with what we have. If we put all of our faith in Jesus, what else do we need? “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Matthew 6:25. Jesus goes on to say that God takes care of the fowls of the air and the lilies of the fields, so we need to be content knowing that He will take care of us. Paul learned this lesson well. He had grown up in a well to do family, but he learned to be content in whatever situation he found himself in and to rely on Jesus, and so can we.
How can we obtain happiness or contentment while living in a fallen world? “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:33-34. If we place our faith and our trust in Jesus Christ, and believe in Him who sent Jesus to dwell among us, we will have what Solomon finally realized by the end of his life. God is the answer. Jesus Christ is God Almighty, our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Saviour, He’s KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. If we fear Him, that is honor and respect Him, we will have contentment. Obeying Him will leave us with a clear conscience and we won’t worry about someone finding out our secret, hidden sins because we will have nothing to hide.
Come to the cross of Christ; lay your burdens down at His feet. Jesus Christ wants to take your troubles, your pains, your sorrows. He wants you to be content and He’s waiting for you. Talk to Him. Turn your life over to Him. You won’t be sorry. No one who is truly born again is ever sorry for the decision they made when they asked Jesus Christ to come into their lives. When you turn your entire life over to Him you will truly be happy. More than that, you will be content.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham
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