The Declaration of Independence declares: That God has endowed all men with the “Unalienable rights” of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is said that as Benjamin Franklin concluded a stirring speech on the guarantees of the Constitution, a heckler shouted, “Aw, them words don’t mean nothin’ at all. Where’s all the happiness you say it guarantees us?” Franklin smiled and replied, “My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness; you have to catch it yourself.”
In the world we live in today, it seems that people are always seeking to find real happiness and joy. The world tells people to find happiness in all the wrong places. The world says, “go to bars, get drunk, meet other miserable people and you will be happy”; “Practice some sexual sin or perversion with other unhappy people and you will be happy”; “Gain all the possessions the world has to offer and you will be happy.” Yet we are living in a world where very few really seem to find happiness.
How can we find true and lasting happiness? The Bible, in Psalm 1, has a simple recipe for lasting and true happiness. We see two facets of finding true happiness.
Facet one: We must separate ourselves from the wicked. We are living in a day when it seems that men and women of God are trying to blend in with those that are following wickedness and then we expect to be happy. We try to sing the same music, live the same lifestyles, and walk in the same places of the world so we do not appear to be different.
The Bible teaches us that we are to be different, we are to be a set apart people that walks, talks and acts differently from the world. A child of God is never happy when we are trying to live like the world and serve the Lord at the same time. We must come out from among the wicked and live a life that is pleasing to the Lord and then we will be faithfully pursuing happiness.
Facet two: We must be devoted to God’s Word. The problem today is that most practicing Christians really do not have a love for the Word of God. We use it simply as a guide source to settle arguments, or we misquote it to satisfy a desire in our lives to follow a pet sin. The Holy Scriptures are not very precious to us anymore. We take very little time to study it or read it and especially we do not live our lives by it.
The Bible should be a book that we enjoy reading, studying and thinking about each day. We should look forward to hearing someone faithfully teach or preach from the Holy Scriptures. We must enjoy the Word of God even when it shows us that we are wrong in our living, our actions, or our words and that we must repent of sin.
In Psalm 1:3 we see three words or phrases that gives us a picture of a person that is living a life separated from the wicked and loves the Word of God. “Planted” gives us a picture of a life that is deeply rooted so that when the great winds and storms of life come, they will not be taken down but will stand strong and true. “River of waters” shows us that by gaining our spiritual nourishment from the living water of the Lord, we will satisfaction to the greatest longings we have in our lives. “Bringth forth” shows that we will then produce fruit that is pleasing to the Lord and will make a difference in the lives of those we are called to influence each day. These are the things that will bring true happiness to each of us.
As Ben Franklin said, if we want happiness we have to catch it and we do so by living a life set apart from the wickedness of the world because it is based on the truths of the Word of God.
Rev. Tim Burton is minister of Flippin Memorial Baptist Church.