Is Happiness Your End Goal?

1 Peter 1: 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

A website and app, www.happify.com, is dedicated to helping people build skills to find happiness through science-based activities and games.  Of no surprise to athletes, they identify sports as being a significant contributor to happiness.  Here are some of the findings from Happify (http://www.happify.com/hd/the-science-behind-sports-and-happiness-infographic/).  Men and women who play sports are happier.  Girls and boys who play on team sports are more satisfied with their lives than kids who don’t, and they are less depressed.  “Researchers say it’s not just being active that makes kids happy.  The social interaction of the team boosts spirits.”

It is no surprise to me that sport increases happiness.  As a child, my happiest moments were spent playing a myriad of sports all summer long.  Beyond my anecdotal evidence, there is actual science to back up that physical activity releases so-called “happiness hormones”.  Apparently your brain starts to release dopamine after just a few minutes of running, and the more you train, the more dopamine is released.  Surely this is a wonderful thing and the search for happiness must be our end goal.

How often do you hear a person say that their goal in life is to be happy?  Their ultimate goal is to achieve true happiness.  On the surface this sounds reasonable.  Why wouldn’t we want to be happy?  However, is this actually Biblical?  Does the Bible instruct us to seek happiness?  My daily devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, comes from a selection of writings from Oswald Chambers, and some of those writings really stretch me.  Destined to Be Holy (http://utmost.org/classic/destiny-of-holiness-classic/) is one of those that really makes me ponder.  In it Chambers argues that: “We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness”.  He goes even further to say: “God has only one intended destiny for mankind – holiness.  His only goal is to produce saints.  God is not some eternal blessing-machine for people to use.”

So are we supposed to sulk around like a bunch of stoic, frowning puritans?  I don’t think that is what Chambers is arguing.  I believe he rightly says that our end goal needs to be holiness.  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.” (1 Peter 1: 15-16).  Jesus himself said: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).  As we seek to advance the kingdom of God on this earth, as we seek holiness, and righteousness, God will truly fulfill us.  We will be filled with joy which is much deeper than happiness.  Joy is not dependent on circumstances.  Counterintuitively, we can even experience joy in trials (James 1:2).  If you read the book of Philippians, written by the Apostle Paul when he was imprisoned in Rome, you will find a man with true contentment and joy.  He had little reason to be happy, but infinite reasons to have joy, for he first chose the Kingdom of God, holiness and righteousness.

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