By Gary Seals
In the Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers declared, “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.” Of course, even the Declaration of Independence cannot guarantee life or liberty any more than it can guarantee happiness, especially since it refers only to its pursuit.
Scripturally speaking, though, this historic statement is simply not true. Even though we are all equal in the sight of our Creator (Acts 10:34-35), we have no rights or guarantees concerning life, liberty, or happiness. Unlike millions who live in oppressive societies around the world, these are things that we here in America simply take for granted, and we even loudly demand our right to them. But thanks to the sacrifice of Christ, we truly are guaranteed eternal life (1 John 5:11-12), liberty from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-4), and happiness which comes from an inward joy that is “unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8-9), but only if we accept Him as Savior and Lord. Unfortunately, too many are only interested in knowing Him as the former but not the latter.
So what is happiness, anyway? A simple dictionary definition is “feeling pleasure or contentment”. Joy, on the other hand, is defined as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires”. Is there a difference between the two, and if so, which is more important? Consider this: happy or happiness occurs only 30 times in the NIV Bible, while joy or joyful occurs a whopping 230 times!
Someone defined Biblical joy as “a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope.” I like that! A settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope! This is the joy that Jesus possessed when He faced the Cross (Hebrews 12:2). This is the joy that brought contentment to the life of the Apostle Paul, no matter what the conditions were that surrounded him (Philippians 4:11-14). And this is the true joy that is the fruit of the Spirit, second only to love (Galatians 5: 22-23).
It is this genuine joy that brings true happiness, not the other way around. If we expect people, money, or possessions to make us happy, we are going to be disappointed. There is only one source of true happiness — the joy that comes from knowing Christ and putting His Kingdom first. And if we do that, He has promised that all the rest will be added — if not in this life, then certainly in the next.
So stop claiming your rights based on a document that seems to lose its significance in this country more and more each day. Look instead to the only document that matters, the Bible, God’s love letter to you, and find true life, liberty, and happiness in Christ, the Author and Finisher of your faith!
Gary Seals serves as the Hardware Support Technician in the IT department at Global University.