Get Happy

I’m writing this blog after reading an article yesterday in Fortune magazine and wandering through a Barnes & Noble. The article was about Pirch which is an ultra, high-end retailer of home appliances and bath fixtures. They provide each employee with a 5 day training course on how to live and work joyfully (this includes their course on the 23 “elements of joy”). Then I walked by the self-help section in the bookstore where there were hundreds of books on how to methodically achieve joy and happiness.

I’m the first to agree that joy is critically important. However, I was just really struck by how our culture or the world defines joy compared to where Christian joy comes from and why it is unique.

If I took a shot at boiling down all the wisdom in the self-help section, Pirch’s 23 elements of joy as well as all the advice from all the experts on (yes, that’s a real website), it would be:

1. Make sure you tend to your food, shelter and clothing needs.
2. Take care of your health.
3. Live compassionately toward others and develop great relationships.
4. Engage in work that interests you, that you are passionate about and makes the world a better place.
5. Lastly, I suppose chanting a hollow platitude like “don’t worry, be happy” should be one of the steps as well.

How completely ludicrous is this? A billion people on earth live on a dollar a day and another billion live on two dollars a day. Simple arithmetic shows that these four steps won’t work for the majority of people. And even Warren Buffett’s wealth can’t fix some of these problems. Our culture teaches that ordering our circumstances just so will give us joy. We will be happy if things are going well and our circumstances are favorable. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the favorable circumstances that life offers. They can be great and wonderful, but we don’t want to rest in them. Fortunately, joy is still available to all of us regardless of our circumstances.

As Timothy Keller puts it: “Other religions teach that if you live as you ought, God will bless you. Christianity says you receive God’s acceptance and blessing as a free gift of faith on the basis of Jesus’ record, not your record, and then you can live as you ought. Total reversal! …You rejoice in God, and he’s not subject to circumstances. You rejoice in suffering because suffering produces stronger endurance, perseverance, character, and that leads to more hope and that hope is in the future glory of God. Christian joy, unlike worldly happiness not only can be maintained when all circumstances go unfavorable, but it can also grow, in fact it does usually grow.”

JC Ryle said one of the reasons we get so upset about our debts and our financial problems, is we don’t realize the great debt of sin. The only debt that could really sink us has been paid. When we realize this, all other debts and problems seem small.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice! Philippians 4:4

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans14:17

Brad Gauen

No comments (Add your own)

Add a New Comment


Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.