Does God Want Me to Be Happy?
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:4-5
As Christians, we believe that we should follow God’s will for our lives. It’s easy though, to desire something so badly that we convince ourselves that God wants it too. God wants me to be happy right? This thing will make me happy. Therefore, God wants me to have this thing. I once knew a man who proclaimed that God had put love in his heart for a young woman. The problem was that his wife just didn’t understand. It was absurd, but the man was convinced that an illicit affair was God’s will for his life – even if it wrecked his marriage.
I’ve also tried to convince myself that my self-destructive behavior was God’s will. In my addiction, I believed I needed my pills to sleep. God wanted me to be a Good ER doctor, and I needed to sleep to be a good doctor. Therefore, it was actually God’s will that I take the pills. Again, it sounds absurd now, but in following my appetite above all, I convinced myself that God was in favor of my addictive behavior.
So, does God want us to indulge in those things that make us feel good? In today’s passage, Paul addressed those who preached asceticism – the strict self-discipline of avoiding all indulgences. Paul opposed this philosophy, teaching that God made everything and that nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, having been made holy by the word of God and prayer.
When I read these words, I naturally begin to scheme, thinking that I can have anything I want if I simply thank God for it first. The passage seems like a loophole that allows me to indulge in any appetite, as long as I say grace before doing it. I can eat whatever I want, look online at whatever I want, say whatever I want, and do whatever I want, as long as I thank God for it first. Thank you, God, for this pornography . . .
God does want us to know a life of joy, but this passage isn’t a green light to indulge in self-destructive behavior. Filtering something through the word of God and prayer, means seeking God’s will above our will. God knows that we find true joy only in following him, which will often mean abandoning our desire for immediate gratification so that we may do what’s right. Salvation isn’t found in strict self-discipline but that doesn’t mean we can get to do whatever we want while blaming it on God’s will.