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March 25, 2012
“Are you happy?”This doesn’t mean, “Do you feel good?,” “Are you comfortable?,” or “Are you delighted?” The question is, “Are you truly and deeply happy?” Happiness is a universal desire; those who are happy are thankful to be in that state; those who are unhappy wish they were in a happy condition. Sadly, though, most people don’t really understand what it means to be happy or how to get that way.
Most people have the mistaken idea that happiness comes from some external source. They think, “If I could just have a little more of this or that” or “If they would just treat me a little better, then I could be happy.” An excuse heard when a brother or sister in Christ decides to part company with a local group of Christians is, “I’m just not happy here.” Is this how little some think of happiness?
Happiness starts inside—in the heart; happiness is a conscious decision. It is a preparation for ultimate contentment. Did the apostle Paul depend on some external stimulus to find blessedness, contentment, and peace? No—actually his external circumstances made little difference to him: “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly … for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (Philippians 4:10-11). Just before making this statement, Paul had reminded brethren to make a decided effort to be firm in their trust in God, to rejoice in God, and to be thankful to God. This leads to a happy result: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7).
Remember the old, colloquial saying, “If mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? There is truth to that statement. There is even truth there in a spiritual sense. If we are not doing things that make God happy, then how can we possibly be happy ourselves? Then, shouldn’t we ask and find answers to the question: “What makes God happy?”?
God’s happiness is described as overwhelmingly great when He is dealing with His faithful people: “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zephaniah 3:17).
The Queen of Sheba, even as an outsider, recognized God’s delight in Solomon leading His people as long as he was faithful: “Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the LORD loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.” (1Kings 10:9).
Enoch is certainly a wonderful example of someone who was pleasing to God. “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 11:5).
John understood what true happiness was all about—doing, and seeing others do, God’s will: “For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” (3John 3-4).
God will always be happy with those who remain faithful to Him. Even that faithful residue of faith among His own ill-turned people caused happiness: “For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5).
Happiness abounds when anyone who has turned away is returned to God. Jesus told of a son who, after leaving his father and then realizing his own error, returned. O, the happiness of the father: “Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:23-24).
In these passages and in many others, what is it that makes God happy? Don’t we all need to work to do the things that make God happy so that we don’t experience the ultimate unhappiness—eternal condemnation? Following is just a short list of things that make God happy so that we may start to work to that end.
What Makes God Happy? — Repentance — “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” and “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:7,10).
What Makes God Happy? — Faith — “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6).
What Makes God Happy? — Fearing Him, waiting on Him — “The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.” (Psalm 147:11).
What Makes God Happy? — Praying to Him — “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” (Proverbs 15:8).
What Makes God Happy? — A meek [afflicted] heart — “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” (Psalm 149:4)
What Makes God Happy? — Uprightness — “Since I know, O my God, that You try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You.” (1Chronicles 29:17).
What does this happiness lead God to do for His people? We need only look at how He treated His people of long ago:
“Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul.” (Deuteronomy 30:9-10).
“I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.” (Jeremiah 32:41).
“I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.” (Isaiah 65:19).
“If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:8-9).
Listen to David’s song: “He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.” (2Samuel 22:20).
In every example, illustration, and instance, we see that what makes God happiest is obedience and reverence. When we have these attitudes toward God, we will be happy, especially when we reach our home in heaven, and won’t that make God happy—to have His children home?
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.