Whatever Makes You Happy

You’ve heard it said, “If it feels good, do it!” and “Do whatever makes you happy because that’s the most important thing,” right?

I’ll bet (and I’m not a betting woman) there’s probably a lot of people who’ve advised someone along those lines and/or lived by one of those mottos themselves.

Sure, we all want to have fun, be happy, and live a rosy life, but there’s always a few thorns hidden amongst the roses. I’m not trying to be pessimistic, I’m just being realistic.

No choice, no action, is without consequence.

Even though God forgives when we repent of a sin because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we still have to live with the consequences of our actions.

There’s two obvious problems that jump out at me from sayings like those:

  1. They suggest we should let our feelings dictate our behavior and, as I’m sure we can all attest from experience, our emotions are pretty fickle. There’s probably less than a handful of people who can say they don’t have a single regret and, if you think of such an instance in your own life, you’ll probably find that it was the emotion of the moment that led to the poor decision and the regrettable behavior. I know that’s the way it is with me.
  2. They encourage you to keep on seeking the next high. It’s similar to being an adrenaline junky. You find something that makes you feel good, so you do it, but when the high wears off (or you fall out of love), you’ve got to do it again or find something else to feel alive again. It may be something as wild as base jumping or something as destructive as heroin.

Let’s consider relationship hopping, for example — in the beginning, everything’s probably going to be great while you’re enjoying getting to know one another, on your best behavior, doing the “dating” thing, and falling in love, but soon enough, the new will wear off. Sometimes that’s before marriage, sometimes it’s after marriage.

The point is, all relationships have their ups and downs and if you live by one of those mottos, you’re going to be more likely to bail when you’re no longer “happy” or “in love.” It’s definitely easier to leave (although probably more expensive if you’re already married) than it is to work through the tough times and stick with your commitment.

As some of us have come to realize, though, that the easy way out is not always the best option and, usually, those things in life worth having often require some work to obtain.

When I was younger, I didn’t even realize I was fashioning my life after the “Do whatever makes you happy” pattern, but I was. When something got boring or difficult or I became “unhappy” I’d move on to the next thing, whether that was an activity or a relationship. That’s exactly why I never stuck with anything long enough to get good at it and why I was on my third marriage by the time I was thirty-five.

At least I’ve learned my lesson now 😊.

So believe me when I tell you, living life by one of those mottos will just end up causing you, and others around you (remember the Ripple Effect), more heartache than anything else. It may feel good at the time but more than likely, someone else is being hurt by your behavior. And, when you finally face the truth, you’ll realize the regrets are accumulating inside you and slowly eating away at your insides like acid, leaving you hollow and unfulfilled.

Sure, you can keep avoiding the pain and trying to dull it with more poor choices — alcohol, drugs, sex, porn, whatever — but all those things do is make you forget the reality of your situation for a little while. Then you wake up and realize you only made things worse than before.

The best way to stop the pain is to forgive yourself, learn from your mistakes, and turn to God for strength, letting him fill you up with his love and goodness, so He can help you do better next time.

Really, the whole reason I started writing on the topic of ‘do whatever makes you happy’ was because of a Facebook post where a former youth pastor openly admitted he was gay and says he’s happier now than he’s ever been, in a relationship with his partner and his partner’s two children. He said anyone who disagreed with what he was doing or found it offensive could just “unfriend” him.

It’s just like when your friend or teenager is hanging around with a crowd or dating someone you know is no good for them. You know the relationship is only going to get them in trouble or cause them more problems than it’s worth, but they refuse to listen to your advice. It’s human nature to not want to hear anyone or anything that opposes what we want to do, especially when we’re being led by our desires, even if they’re subconscious desires of wanting to belong or needing to feel loved, rather than objectively thinking through all the consequences.

Anyway, he said he still loved Jesus and Jesus still loved him, and I’m sure that’s true. Any parent knows that just because your kid does something you told them not to, doesn’t mean you stop loving them. It only means you don’t like what they’re doing and you’ll probably punish them for their disobedience.

We are reassured of God’s love for us no matter what in Romans 8:35, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble, or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” Of course, the answer is no (verse 37), but He will still discipline us, like a good parent as it says in Hebrews 12:6, “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

I wasn’t trying to make this post about what the Bible says about homosexuality, but it does spell it out plain and simple, and it isn’t how God intended it to be. It is considered a sin, according to Romans 1:27, “And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.”

As humans, it’s easy for us to put different weights on different sins, though, and I think that’s to make ourselves feel better when we commit one of the more “minor” ones and can compare it with someone else, thinking, “Well, at least I didn’t do that!” To us, certain ones like committing murder or adultery, are worse than others like being greedy, getting habitually drunk, or purposefully hurting someone, but homosexuality is no worse than stealing a pen from work or cheating your employer out of an extra 15-30 minutes of pay by riding the clock.

According to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, a sin is a sin: “⁹Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, ¹ºor are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.”

I’m not here to judge. I’ve done plenty of sinful things over the years, so I’m definitely not going to be the first one to throw a stone. Matthew 7:1 says, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” However, I have learned, sometimes the hard way, the truth of 1 Corinthians 10:23 that says, “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ — but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ — but not everything is beneficial.” Like I said, the consequences will catch up with you.

What struck home with me the most, though, after reading several of the comments following his post, was how many people cheered him on, basically saying, “You need to do whatever makes you happy and not worry about what other people say.” I think that’s pretty good advice if you’re talking about what shoes to wear with what outfit, what color to dye your hair, which city to live in, or even career choices, but when it’s referring to something that the Bible speaks against, that’s not wise advice to give or to follow.

Some would say that we need to show Christ’s love, because even Jesus loved the sinners. It’s true he did, but he wasn’t one to be okay with (read: tolerate) someone continuing to sin. Are you familiar with the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:4-11 who was dragged before Jesus and was going to be stoned by a group of religious teachers? When He said that the one who has never sinned should be the one to throw the first stone, they all slipped away quietly. Verse 10 & 11 says, “Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, ‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ¹¹’No, Lord,’ she said. And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more.’”

He did not say, “You’re forgiven, go back to what you were doing.”

None of us has any right to point an accusing finger at someone else. Definitely, we should still continue to show that person caught in sin the love of Christ, but that doesn’t mean we need to approve of, agree with, or enable what they are doing. That’s what I think a lot of people mean by tolerance — anything anyone wants to do is okay, if that’s what makes them happy — but that’s not what Jesus is all about.

Everyone will stand before God one day and according to Romans 2:6-8, “⁶He will judge everyone according to what they have done. ⁷He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. ⁸But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.” Along the same lines, 1 Peter 1:17 says, “And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as ‘temporary residents.’”

People are stubborn and they’re going to do what they’re going to do. Whether it’s out of ignorance or foolishness or the belief that they’ll have time to repent before they die, who knows?

God does.

Proverbs 21:2 says, “People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines the heart.” Psalms 33:13-15 tells us “The LORD looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.” That may be reassuring to those who are worried that something they did may be misunderstood. Hopefully, it may cause others, who think they can get away with hiding something, to give it a second thought.

Either way, nothing is hidden from the Lord. We can’t fool Him, but we are pretty good at fooling ourselves and allowing the devil to deceive us.

Our culture promotes the “me, myself, and I” mentality. We’re led to believe that the most important thing in life is getting what we want because we deserve to be happy. We’re taught to demonstrate tolerance and in the process, Biblical values are condemned as restrictive and intolerant. Meanwhile, the devil is delighted with himself for pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.

We can’t take bits and pieces of the Bible and believe whichever ones suit us at the time and ignore the rest. It doesn’t work that way, but so many people seem to live that way.

Just so long as they’re happy (or can forget that they’re hurting), that’s the main thing.

Um, no!

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2 thoughts on “Whatever Makes You Happy

  1. So, what if your repetitions have to do with repeated mistakes related to feelings of self-worthlessness and repeated commitments to people who abuse you (as you were in your family of origin)?

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    • Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!
      My answer to your question is that no matter what, whether it’s a one time mistake or repeated mistakes, God grace covers them — he loves you and has already forgiven you, if you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior. Nothing is a surprise to him either — he knew you before you were born, called you by name, knows every word you are going to speak even while it’s still just a thought, and every action you’re going to take long before you do it. God understands our weaknesses and what we do doesn’t make him love us any more or any less. I’m sure he would prefer you to get your self-worth from knowing you’re a child of the Most High God and not look to other people for your worth, though.
      Apart from that, I think it goes back to a heart issue. If you’re regretful and really wish you didn’t repeat that same mistake over and over, it’s already forgiven. I know from experience he wants you turn to him for strength during those tough times. He can definitely give you the ability to avoid the temptation to behave in a certain way and to change your behavior, if you’re sincere about wanting to. It’s a matter of giving over control to the Holy Spirit rather than striving under your own power. While in the midst of the triggering situation, reciting scripture and mouthing fervent prayers under my breath for help, strength, and courage, is what helped me.
      However, if you’re doing that repetitive mistake knowingly, purposefully going against his Word, then it seems like it might be a little rebellion or some other issue (unforgiveness, bitterness, etc) surfacing and that’s when it becomes a sin.
      I’m not a Bible scholar and I’m just speaking from experience, but I hope that helps.

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