In part six of our Don’t Eat The Yellow Paint series, we talk about five things to do every day, and five things to avoid each day to pursue the path of happiness. Avoid the traps that keep you from being happy, and what it takes to find true happiness.
Something To Talk About:
Consider these five ways to help you avoid traps to happiness:
- Trap: Legalism: The trap for living in God’s grace daily is legalism. Legalism is the attitude that I have to prove my love to God. Legalism is trusting in what I do for God instead of what Jesus did for me. God’s cut me some slack, I’m going to cut you some slack. The way you earn the smile of God is you don’t earn it. It’s not your performance. It’s His pardon. Antidote: Live with grace daily: That’s the first thing you need to do if you want to be a happy person. Live in God’s grace. Don’t try to earn God’s approval, don’t try to earn His love, don’t try to earn His recognition. We don’t earn it. God is love and God loves us unconditionally. The Bible is all about what God has done for us and what Jesus did for us on the cross, not about what we do for God. Philippians 3:3 (MSG) “We couldn’t carry this off by our own effort, and we know it.” The trap for living in God’s grace daily is legalism.
- Trap pop culture: Because every day there are thousands of advertising messages that say, you aren’t worth anything until you’ve got our new and improved, latest and greatest product. The question is will that product be important in 50 years? How about 5 years. Too many people are living for things that aren’t going to matter. Antidote: Remember what matters most: When I get up in the morning I need to remind myself what counts and what doesn’t count. It means not being distracted by what really doesn’t matter, what’s unimportant, in life. Have you realized how easy it is to lose your joy over some small thing? It’s usually the small irritations that cause marital unhappiness. The question is do those things really matter in life? ”I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.” (Philippians 3:7) All those things that I thought were so important to me are no longer important now that I know Christ.
- Trap busyness: We get too busy and we start cutting corners and making compromises and before you know it the relationship with God has soured because you don’t spend any time with Him. Antidote: Get to know Jesus better: Our goal every day should be to know Jesus a little better before the day ends. We were made to live in relationship with God, and He is where the joy is found in our lives. Paul discovered that. He says, “And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness …” (Philippians 3:10-11 AMP) We can know about people but really knowing people requires that I have a relationship with them. You don’t grow a relationship without investing time in a relationship.
- Trap Pride: Pride will keep us from growing. Because when I pretend that I’ve got it all together then I don’t have it all together. When I have pride I am not teachable. Happy people never stop growing. How can I be a better spouse this year? How can I be a better parent? And how can I better serve my Lord and Savior this year? Antidote: Review where we need to grow: Reviews are healthy. Take a couple of minutes out of every day during your quiet time with God and do a spiritual daily checkup. Ask God where we need to grow. What do I need to work on? Where am I weak? Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Paul said, “I don’t mean to say I’m perfect. I still haven’t learned all I should, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I’m still not all I should be…”(Philippians 3:12-13, LB) Considering Paul’s spiritual legacy, it’s had to hear him say that he hasn’t arrived.
- The traps: regret, and unforgiveness: You’ve got to let go of regrets. Yes, there are things I would have done differently. Learn from them and don’t dwell on them. That’s the stuff that people have done to you. It can be hard to forgive people. But if you don’t, you get stuck in the past. There’s one other thing that’s going to keep you stuck in the past and cause you to be unhappy. That is not forgiving the person and moving on. Antidote: Forget what can’t be changed and focus on the future: The past has a strong hold over many of us and yet at the same time we long to be free of it. Each time we relive the past in our thoughts we keep it alive even though it’s extremely painful. That is a dead-end road; instead, look to the future with amazing hope. We have all been hurt in our past. Happiness requires letting go of the hurt and learning to forget. You can hold onto the past or you can be happy. Here’s what Paul says, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
- Does grace erase the consequences of wrongdoing? Explain why or why not.
- How might your life change if you were to accept God’s free gift of grace, love, forgiveness, and mercy?
- What is legalism to you?
- What do we focus on? Why is the unimportant or trivial part of that focus?
- God went out of His way to know you. Agree or disagree and why? God is always ready for you….He is never too busy to hear from you. He doesn’t think your problems and challenges are too small for Him to take time for. What does that mean for our lives today?
- Is getting to know Jesus better the best investment we can make in this life (other than salvation)? How do we go about doing that?
- Our pop culture tells us that we can become anything we want to become. How does this mindset subtly creep into your walk with God?
- How can we start thinking future, present, past rather than the current order of past, present, and future?
- If we stop trying to get better then we have arrived: What does “Arrival Mode” look like for a Christian?
- “Arrival Mode” can be very dangerous in life and in faith. Why is this? Share some scenarios or examples of situations where one can slip into arrival mode.
- Is regret something you want to be freed from? What would God have to do to liberate you?
- Paul reminds us that we need to constantly focus on eternity to become one with Christ and that everything else is “garbage.” To put this into perspective, we need to answer the following question: How important will the current major issues in our lives be in 5 or 10 years, or into eternity? Discuss strategies that you can utilize daily to focus on eternity and not be distracted by the popular culture of today’s world.
- What is one thing from this message you want to make a part of your daily life?
Take one thing home with you:
Are We In Arrival Mode
A man walks out of his Rosemary Beach beachfront home, casts a glance at the Mercedes AMG S 65 sedan in the driveway. He pulls out his phone to make sure there are no new emails from the office. There are none so he sits on a bench and waits for his wife and kids. This is their first trip as a family on the 65 foot yacht he just bought last week. The decision to go to law school was difficult all those years ago. So was all the time away from the family as he made partner and then started his own firm. But It was worth it. He had arrived and now could enjoy all that his hard work had give him.
As Christians do we arrive? Is there a time when all of our hard work and efforts will pay off? The answer is no. We are still a work in progress and will be until we meet Jesus face to face. The life God uniquely designed for us to live and for which our hearts yearn cannot be achieved by our own efforts, no matter how disciplined we may be. In fact, our desperate huffing and puffing to please God, scrambling to win His favor, and thrashing about to fix myself were, in fact, an enormous insult to Him. Fortunately, desiring to follow Jesus isn’t about being complete and perfect; it’s about doing my best and trusting God to finish what He began. Its about living with His grace daily, remembering what matters most, getting to know Jesus better, figuring out where we need to grow, and focusing on the future.