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Today people think happiness is a result, instead of a choice. They believe that if they didn’t have any problems and if they had an abundance of good things, happiness would be the inevitable result. That’s not true. Happiness isn’t a state of being; it’s a state of mind. A person can be happy when everyone and everything around them is in turmoil. They can be content no matter what the financial or physical conditions might be. True happiness and contentment isn’t dependent upon circumstances. In Philippians 4:11 Paul said, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Notice that contentment is something the Apostle Paul learned. It didn’t come naturally or without effort. None of us came out of the womb reading and writing; we had to learn through years of effort. Likewise, contentment, which is a major component of happiness, has to be learned. It doesn’t come on us like a seizure, and we don’t catch it like a cold. It is an acquired trait. How do we acquire happiness? First, we need to deal with what’s on the inside. Most people take a different approach. They want to deal with the outside. They pray for their problems to be solved and that only good things and good people will come their way. Let me give you a clue: That ain’t going to happen! As long as we are in this world, we will have problems (John 16:33). And if we are living for God, we will have persecutions (2 Tim. 3:12). If you never bump into the devil, it’s because you’re going in the same direction. When you turn around and start swimming upstream, you will always encounter resistance. People and circumstance might start working against you. You can’t always control what goes on outside, but you can totally control what goes on inside when faced with that resistance. When you understand that, you will have discovered one of the greatest keys to happiness. In addition, you will be on your way to eliminating grief in your life. Proverbs 13:10 says, “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” If we weren’t so in love with ourselves, so prideful and self-centered, we wouldn’t be so sensitive to all the things that rub self the wrong way. It really comes down to our love of self. One of the most liberating things in the world is to love someone else more than yourself. And when the one you love more is God, you will rejoice when He is glorified, even if that happens through your suffering. When God and others are more important to you than yourself, then you are well on your way to happiness. But if you are all wrapped up in yourself, you make a very small package. And therein lies the number one obstacle to contentment and happiness. Most people are addicted to self like addicts are to drugs. They are never satisfied. And this self-centered dissatisfaction is Satan’s greatest open door for temptation. He used self-interest to tempt Adam and Eve, even though they lived in a perfect world without a single problem. We can never truly satisfy self. We just have to deny it. We have to die to self and place God and others ahead of self. That’s easier said than done, but once we die to ourselves, happiness is just around the corner. Second, we need to deal with what’s outside, our circumstances. You see, it’s not your problems that are the problem; it’s the way you see your problems and the value you place on them that makes them a problem. If we are only looking for happiness in this life, then we are going to be miserable (1 Cor. 15:19). Our true happiness lies in Jesus and our future with Him. If we are in faith, we can have joy unspeakable and full of glory now, in this life (1 Pet. 1:8). It’s our anchor in eternity that keeps our hearts from being troubled (John 14:1-3). Regardless of how bad things are in this life, we have such a wonderful eternity promised to each of us that all our troubles pale in comparison. Our future is so bright, we have to squint to look at it. All the sufferings of this life are short and insignificant compared to eternity and all the pleasures the Lord has in store for us. Keeping this in mind will shrink our problems down to a manageable size. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
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