Saturday, June 13, 2009

Happiness and Holiness

June 13 - Evening

Why is it that we place such a limited scope of possibility on our personal happiness? Why do we so often say, as if we truly know, "Oh, to have such-and-such! Then, I would be truly happy!" The truth of the matter is that we Christians are just as guilty of it as our unredeemed neighbors, and possibly we are even guilty of a worse manifestation. We look on pharisaically when we see the neighbors spending all their time working to afford the bigger house, the better car, the nicer vacation and yet we sit comfortably in our pews week in and week out and express our discontent with the state of our "holiness"! Yes, we all know, as good Christians, that it is wrong to be discontented, but we do it all the time, and about areas that we have no business being discontented in!

How many times have you heard, during conversation with a brother or sister in Christ, a phrase similar to this: "Oh, if I just had more time to spend in the Word, then my faith would be so much stronger!" Or perhaps this one: "I would love to be able to find a way to devote myself more fully to serving the Lord, but I just haven't found the right outlet for ministry."

This is folly, and for two reasons. As Spurgeon reminds us tonight, the happiest Christian is also the holiest. The pursuit of holiness, for a child of God, is the pursuit of happiness! And yet, as I said before, we narrow our vision so much when we attempt to "analyze" our hearts and know our own souls. This is the first reason why the malcontent that we must fight against is so misleading. It is, first and foremost, an artificial set of conditions that we place on ourselves and our ability to let the Lord work in us. When we pray, asking God for more time to spend in the Word, thus making our faith stronger, we intentionally try to limit God's power. Why not ask, instead, simply that God would make our faith stronger? Let Him choose the ways, and the means. Granted, there is no way I would argue that a deeper study of God's Word would not bless any soul that attempts it, but rather my point is this: Why do we, who are warring constantly with ourselves and our indwelling sin, attempt to direct the work of the One who knows the very thoughts and desires of our hearts?

The second reason why this narrowing of our focus is so counterproductive is this: Discontent, and dissatisfaction, are two different entities. Dissatisfaction is a healthy state of mind that dispassionately views a problem, determines a solution, and then works with zeal to do what it may to change the situation and erase the problem. Dissatisfaction is being able to objectively view the world and say "this is not as God would have wanted it, therefore I make it my mission today to impact this world to bring it, so far as my feeble efforts will allow, to more closely resemble the original Design."

Discontent, by contrast, is nothing more than the weak and ineffectual whining of a heart not properly captivated. And, you may rest assured, Reader, that the devil dearly loves his discontented minions! Discontent is a fantastic weapon in the arsenal of the enemy, because it allows us to deceive ourselves into thinking that we are properly offended and frustrated with the world as it presently is, without giving us the heart, will and strength to go out and do something about changing it. As Spurgeon said, "no Christian is safe when his soul is lazy, and his God is far from him." Therefore, let us fight the inner discontentment that says to our souls "This is enough." And, furthermore, let us stop limiting the ways in which we allow God to work through our dissatisfaction to effect change both in us and in the world. It breeds discontent, because when we only allow God to come so far, and no farther, and then He chooses to ignore our prideful request, in favor of doing His own perfect will in our lives, regardless of what we want, we get offended and begin to question God: "I asked Him to help me spend more time in the Word, and instead He has put me in an office full of non-Christians who just bug me to death all day?" How would this scenario play out if the Christian realized that here, in another way, was indeed the answer to his prayer? Let us never forget that God works in mysterious ways, HIS wonders (not the wonders that we hope He'll allow us to be a part of) to perform.

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