All Christians want to be happy and all Christians are working on the “how” to be happy. It is a struggle for many because our natural tendency is to work on being happy, worry, create our own happiness and depend on others to make us happy. We seek happiness from material things, from our spouse or from other people. But that is not where consistent happiness can be found.
So . . . how do you grow in happiness?
Something To Talk About:
Consider these four ways to help you create and grow in happiness:
- Shift the focus away from myself: There is a famous quote that says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” It’s true. Self-absorption is the fast track to misery, while serving and thinking of others before yourself leads to happiness. Paul gives Timothy as an example of this in Philippians 2:20-21: “I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ.” Most people are worrying about their own plans and aren’t looking out for the interests of others. If you want to be one of those rare, unselfish people, you have to be intentional about looking away from yourself and to the needs of others, where you’ll find happiness in serving God through serving others. Remember the verse from last week that says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Philippians 2:4).
- Become someone that people can trust: live with integrity, keep your promises: It is hard to listen to a message on integrity, even though we want to associate with and compete against people that have integrity. It is tough because we fall short of the standard that we want in others. As Christians, we want to live by our values. Our values reflect what is most important in our lives. Can you think of three better values than integrity, humility, and generosity? If we want to be people of integrity, then the first step is to admit that you haven’t mastered this integrity thing. You don’t always keep your promises. Sometimes you gossip. No one is perfect, but God doesn’t expect you to be perfect! He does, however, expect you to have integrity, and the starting point is to own up to your sins and work on being more Christlike every day.
- Learn how to work well with others: learn to cooperate, learn to be considerate. It seems that working well with others is more difficult than it used to be. If you don’t work well with other people, you’re going to be unhappy much of your life. To work well with other people there has to be a sense of cooperation. People who are working as a successful team and cooperating with each other listen to each other without interrupting. They encourage everyone to join in and are willing to hear and accept the ideas of others. We also need to be considerate. The more considerate you learn to be of other people’s needs, doubts, and fears, the happier you will be. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common” (MSG). None of us is by nature a considerate person, because we tend to think of ourselves first and not the needs of others. Learning to work well with others takes work, and learning to get along and work well with others takes practice.
- Live for something worth dying for: Guaranteed we’re all going to die someday. Some of us deny it as if we can somehow cheat death while others fear death and take no chances in life. The Apostle Paul identified his life for Christ. His burden was to preach Christ and Him crucified. Death to Paul was just a delay until he could be with Christ. In the delay, however, he knew he could serve others best by preaching Christ. He knew that anything he accomplished in this life was “garbage” compared to gaining Christ (Philippians 3:8) The question is not that we will die, but what are we living for. There is an English evangelist named Leonard Ravenhill who had an unusual inscription on his tombstone: Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for? There is no greater cause in this life than the cause of Christ. It will not only guarantee a person’s life for all eternity, but it is the only life that truly satisfies and fulfills us on this side of eternity.
- The Declaration of Independence says “..and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” What are some ways Americans pursue happiness? Do you think these bring true happiness?
- Look up Philippians 2:20-21 in several Bible translations. How do these explain why Timothy is “like no one else”?
- What happens in the life of a Christian when they think of others instead of themselves? How does this principle of putting others first develop character?
- Was there a time when someone thought of you and served you instead of themselves. How did that affect you?
- In order to be happier, we must learn to shift our focus outward. How would your perspective change if you asked yourself, “Who here needs my help?” every time you walked into a room?
- Read Leviticus 19:35-36; Deuteronomy 25:15, Proverbs 16:11-13: What do these passages of scripture indicate about integrity?
- If people who know you were asked for five words that describe you, would integrity be one of them? What can you do to improve your integrity?
- What does it mean to work well with others to you? From being cooperative and considerate? What are the distractions that keep you from focusing on these things.
- Many of us commit big amounts of time to small causes rather than investing in something that will outlast us. What are some examples?
- Are we living in view of eternity? Living in view of the eternity should drastically change our lives. What does a Christian look like who is living in view of eternity?
- What can we do this week differently as a result of this message?
Take one thing home with you:
“How do you do it?”
There are pastors, missionaries and many other people who are serving the people by showing them Christ’s love—preaching the good news, and distributing Bibles. They go to homes of secret believers. They invite friends and family to hear the message of Jesus. They go in and open the Bible with families that could at any moment have their doors kicked in and imprisoned. Those of us who live in the U.S. can’t relate. So we sit and wonder how they do it. How do they sleep peacefully with no worries? How can they not panic and flee? Why do they allow themselves to be in harm’s way? They do what they do because the more people they meet, the more people will hear the gospel message – the more will have the one secure true hope offered to them.