“For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3
I’ve heard it said more times than I’d like, and unfortunately I used to believe it as well. This false theology comes from lack of knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and how He reveals Himself in it. This lie that we have believed has caused most of us to alter how we live our lives, how we make decisions, and ultimately has given us a false view and understanding of the character of God. Are you ready for the lie? It might shock you.
“God wants me to be happy.”
Does He really? Because we know that God is good and loving, we mistakenly assume that He is somehow entitled to bring us happiness or at least He wants us to be happy.
We stake our lives on this lie to the point that many have walked away from their marriages because they just don’t find happiness in them anymore, and God certainly wouldn’t want me to be in an unhappy marriage, right?
Many have pursued dreams that are completely contrary to a lifestyle that God would desire for them in the pursuit of happiness, all the while placing God’s blessing on their decisions, a blessing that perhaps God never gave. Many uproot their families and move across country to climb the corporate ladder because God would certainly want them to make more money in order for their family to have more happiness, right?
Some have destroyed their lives with massive amounts of debt in the pursuit of happiness through the funnel of materialism, convinced that God must want them to have the things that they so desperately want because after all, God wants them to be happy. Still, others have rejected organized religion under the claim that it’s nobody’s business what their personal relationship with God looks like because their understanding and approach to faith makes them happy, and God would want them to be happy, right?
Do you see how we seek to justify so many of the sinful, selfish, and outright foolish decisions that we make based on this increasingly popular lie that “God wants me to be happy”?
I’m going to suggest to you today that God cares far more about your holiness than He does about your happiness.
What’s God’s will for your life?
It has little to do with the car you drive, your zip code, the square footage of your house, and how much money you make.
His will is that you would be sanctified, meaning that He’s willing for you to go through whatever it takes (hardship and trials included – think about Job) to transform you into the man or woman He desires for you to be.
He wants you to be increasingly more like Himself, and unfortunately your happiness doesn’t play much of a factor in that.
He’d rather have full possession of and access to your heart. In other words, He is willing to allow you to go through the fires of this life in order to purify you from the stains of sin.
Some of you immediately want to reject this and are thinking, “How could God possibly not want me to be happy?”
Again, I would direct you back to God’s Word. The fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace…we err when we confuse happiness with joy.
Happiness is dependent upon circumstances, therefore, when our circumstances suddenly seem to take a turn for the worse, happiness flees. Joy, however, can be had and fully experienced in the face of difficulty, which is why the apostle Paul instructs us again in what God’s will is for our lives in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – to give thanks in all circumstances.
God most certainly wants you to be filled with joy, but that is not the same as our idea of happiness.
God wants you to be holy, set apart, different or other than this sinful world far more than He wants you to be happy. Understanding the character of God is crucial in growing in our trust of Him. If we miss this, if we err in our understanding of who He is, we walk a dangerous line of trying to be our own gods by creating a god that suits our wants. God is who HE says He is, and He desires for us to be holy, just as He is holy. (Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7, 20:26, Deuteronomy 7:6)
How about we stop spouting off feel-good Christianese and start speaking the truth of God’s Word in love into each other’s lives? The road to holiness will no doubt be difficult and quite possibly painful, but the journey includes sanctification and the final destination is glorification.