My mates say this all the time. I say this sometimes. This is the motto of our generation… and yet quite possibly, this is the most self-centred, careless, and hurtful thing we could ever say. Because this self-focused-I’m-the-most-important-person sort of happiness is always at the expense of others. Even the seemingly harmless forms of happiness.
Take shopping for example: I’m happy when I get to buy clothes at a cheap price, but they’re cheap because the poor sweat shop workers in fashionesia are getting paid 5 cents an hour to make them! But… if cheap clothes makes me happy then that’s what’s important… right? And what if you apply this principle to more harmful forms of happiness? What if someone is happy when they abuse children? They’re doing what makes them happy and that’s what’s important… right? We could make a huge list of all sorts of things: I feel happy when I steal your stuff. I feel happy when I punch you in the face. I feel happy when I ride on the train without paying for a ticket. I feel happy when I get music for free of the net illegally. I feel happy when I… whatever.
Do we really believe that our happiness is the most important thing? That if I do what makes me happy then I am living a full life?
I think this is what we really do believe. But we don’t want people abusing children “that’s really, really bad” we say. And we don’t want people stealing our stuff, or punching me in the face… So how about we say “Whatever makes you happy… as long as you’re not hurting anyone.” Ahhhhh that’s better. That’s a much nicer thought. That solves the problem with child abusers and thieves, and face punchers, and exploiting poor people… But now you really need to think about everything that makes you happy and work out if it’s hurting someone else. Because lot’s of people say say this but not many ever change what they do.
Big brand clothing companies are still exploiting sweat shop workers and we still buy their brand because the fashion or the price makes us happy. Big companies are still exploiting developing countries and we still buy their goods because their product makes our lifestyle easier and happier… We probably like to think that we’re not hurting anyone else in our pursuit of happiness, but the reality is that we’re really just thinking of our own happiness and ignoring the people that we’re hurting.
And when we’re ignoring the people that we’re hurting, the person who always seems to get left out of the picture is God. Is your lifestyle hurting him? What are the things that hurt God? It’s our rebellion against what he values. It’s our refusal to let him have any influence over our decisions. It’s our deliberate choice to block out his voice when it conflicts with what we want to make us happy.
Are you looking for that sexual relationship outside of marriage to make you happy? The world says it’s fine… You love each other, you can’t be hurting anyone else, this is YOUR relationship. Well what about God? Is your pursuit of happiness hurtful to God?
This is happiness that hurts… This is happiness that comes only to steal, kill and destroy… But Jesus came that you may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).
You will never experience life to the full if you pursue happiness that is hurtful to God and/or others.
But there is a way for happiness and full life, and it is this: “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” And “whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” Jesus (Mark 8:35; 10:44).
Really, the saying needs to changed to “Whatever makes God happy, that’s the most important thing!”