Dear Christian: We All Need to Stop Saying “Do What Makes You Happy”

In roughly 8 Days, I will have been an ordained minister in Christ for 10 years. I served Christ as a volunteer for 5 years before that, working with Children and Youth, and, apart from my rebellious late teens and early 20s, I’ve served in church for a great portion of my life. In all of that time, I’ve never seen something so destructive to a person’s walk in Christ as the phrase “Do what makes you happy.” We’ve all heard it, and maybe even all have said it at some point in our lives, if we’re honest. But in my experience with children and youth, and even among adults, “Do what makes you happy” has been so toxic, so destructive, I wish it were destroyed all together. For a minute, though, let’s pretend that the “happiness” that someone is pursuing isn’t hurting anyone else, that it only effects the individual making the pursuit. That Happiness still can effect eternity for that person.


Happiness is a temporary condition, based on feelings and emotions. Feelings and emotions, themselves are temporary and are grounded in circumstances. When circumstances change, so to do the feelings and emotions about it. I don’t know how many adults I’ve had in my office over the years weeping over the people or choices they’ve made in their pursuit of happiness. I’ve seen husbands and wives split up because they were not happy, I’ve seen people ruin their lives over substances, career moves, and situations because they thought they would be happy, I’ve seen people hurt or kill themselves because they were unhappy. Happiness has no substance! It is cotton candy: it seems big until it’s consumed, then it’s nothing but empty calories, and sugar. Case in point: my flesh knows what it needs to be happy. If I were to pursue that happiness, no one would celebrate it, because such a pursuit would destroy my wife and kids. And Happiness is tied to the flesh, because it is about instant gratification, and to heck with the results.


What then should we follow? What should we pursue? Pursue the will of God. In God there is peace with contentment. With God there is joy in the storm. In Him, we can endure anything. Happiness is temporary, and the effects can destroy us. In the Will of God, even should the worst happen to us, we will find peace. Pursue God and His will. Don’t do what makes you happy, or encourage others to do so. In God’s will, you’ll never be doing what is wrong, and so you’ll always have Joy and Peace with contentment. And these are everlasting.


Psalm 18


I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.


The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.


In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.


Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water. Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.


The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire. And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them. Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.


He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.


The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt. So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.


With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.


For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?— the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.

I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed. I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet. For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed. They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them. I beat them fine as dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets.


You delivered me from strife with the people; you made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me. Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses.


The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation— the God who gave me vengeance and subdued peoples under me, who rescued me from my enemies; yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me; you delivered me from the man of violence.


For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name. Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.




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