Be Ye Happy?

Our Father wants us to be like Him: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16). I sometimes wonder, however, if we have exchanged holy for happy. That is, our becoming more like Him has taken back seat to being happy. Nothing wrong with being happy; I like happy. But when it trumps the pursuit of holiness, the pursuit of happiness has become an idol—it has replaced God.

Want some examples? We are tired, having worked (or was it played?) really hard on Saturday. Sunday comes early. We sleep instead. “It’s my only day to do that,” we rationalize. It’s also the only day in seven Jesus rose from the dead. He wants us in His house. Here is another. We know what God says in His Book about serving one another. “But if I don’t look after me, who will?” we think to ourselves. “I’ll serve others when I feel like it,” we conclude. If we only do things when we feel like it, though, we aren’t going to do much serving.

It is easy to pursue happiness. The recipient is me. It is hard to pursue holiness; not only am I not the recipient—it generally costs me instead.

But there is irony. When we pursue holiness, in the end, we generally are happy (there is a sense of joy); for when we are obediently about the things of the Lord, happiness is often attached. In other words, we get both. It feels good to please God. But when our happiness is pursued at the expense of pursuing holiness; we get neither. We certainly haven’t pleased God. And in His economy, when the child of God realizes this, whatever happiness gained is lost.

God never said “Be happy, because I am happy.” But when looking at the church, you’d sure think He did.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
September 29, 2011



  1. Very timely. I think this could be fleshed out a lot more for us. Our world innundates us with the idea that if we don’t take of ourselves, we will be a mess and of no use to anybody. In someways that is true, but totally untrue in other ways. Holiness is living a righteous life, but in our culture it becomes only caring for our neighbor (an obvious component), which often makes me want to just help rather than speaking truth. How about expanding a bit.

  2. Reminds me of another C S Lewis quote about aiming for heaven and you get earth thrown in.

    Be perfect. Thank you, Jesus, for doing a perfect work that God accepted, so we are made acceptable.

    Pursuing holiness — Praying before the throne that Jesus made accessible, treating each other with kindness, respect. Forgiving when we mess up (we get to practice this often). After having to battle with cancer, I lost some of that “exacting” or regulating on others. We’re not going to get out of this alive, so gracious margins seem called for. There is true liberty in Christ.

    So we don’t see eye to eye. What if we don’t agree on everything? Love covers a multitude of sins. Since we’re in the same family (God’s), there’s nowhere else to go. Pick up an oar and row. I want encouragement to make it to the other side of the River, to the Celestial City. To hear the welcome of God.

    By God’s grace, He justifies, He sanctifies. Out of grateful hearts we thank Him and extend ourselves to others — first the body, then others. Thank you for leading worship and teaching us more of God’s word. Thank you for proclaiming the Gospel each Sunday. May our understanding increase and be known by the love we show one another.

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