You might be wondering where I’m heading with a title like that! How can “having” be the key to happiness, especially in light of all that the Scriptures teach us? Well, if I am right, and having really is the key to happiness, it must come down to what it is we have! It cannot be having more possessions; Scripture makes it abundantly clear that happiness cannot be rooted in the stuff of life.
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
This is just a tiny sampling of the biblical truth that having “stuff” is not the key to being happy in this life. Remember that the rich young ruler went away from Jesus sad, because he had a whole lot of stuff (Matthew 19:16-22). As I have said here before, it’s not what you possess that brings lasting joy, but rather, what possesses you. In order for “having” to be the key to happiness, it must come down to having the only thing that truly matters in this life and the next: the Lord Jesus Christ!
Funny thing about life, you never realize Jesus is all you need for happiness in this life until Jesus is all you have. So many saints have lived this truth. How could Stephen, the first Christian martyr, pray for the forgiveness of those who were stoning him to death? Because he had Jesus! How could Paul endure so many hardships in life and not grow disillusioned and bitter? Because he had Jesus! How could so many martyrs go to agonizing deaths singing hymns and spiritual songs praising God? Because they had Jesus!
The key to happiness is having Jesus. Nothing smaller than Jesus will ever bring us the kind of happiness we desire deep down, because once we have Jesus we realize that “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Life—both eternal and every day—consists not in our stuff, but in our Savior. This is the key that unlocks the doorway leading to unimaginable happiness and a deep, abiding joy that cannot be shaken by the circumstances of life.
Just a cursory glance at today’s society provides all the proof we need that happiness simply cannot be rooted in the stuff of life. We have more possessions and comfort in our culture than any other country on earth, and yet, as Thoreau said, so many of us are leading lives of quiet desperation . . . often utter despair.
How is it with you today? Where do you find your happiness? By God’s grace, may we be able to echo the words of Solomon: “Happy is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20 RSV).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!