1Cor. 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
1Cor. 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1Cor. 13:8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
On New Year’s Eve, I had the pleasure of encountering one of
my favorite cashiers at our local grocery store as I completed my
shopping.This young man is not only
extremely competent and fast, he is helpful and friendly.As I left, he wished me a good day and a
happy new year.I appreciated his
cheerful good wishes, and the positive attitude of the other patrons indicated
that others were looking for a happy new year as well.
I want a happy new year along with everyone else.I love the pleasures that I associate with
feelings of happiness, and our good and loving God invented and instituted many
of them.The pleasures of relationship,
sex, and food and drink all have God’s name on them.I love interacting with our pets, I
thoroughly enjoy playing games on Lumosity, and I am known to indulge in more
than an occasional bowl of ice cream.But
as I entered the parking lot, I also realized that happiness is transitory and
temporary.God wants more for me.Our Master wants me to experience no less
than the peace that passes human understanding and the deep joy that comes as I
partake in His nature and participate in His kingdom’s work.
The question is, “Do I want what God wants for me?Do I want more than happiness?”Christians often picture the Christian life
as one of discipline, of controlling our desires.To be sure, this is a component of a life of
faith.But C.S. Lewis makes this
consider the unblushing promises of reward
and the staggering nature of the rewards promised
in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds
our desires not too
strong, but too weak. We are
half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and
sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like
an ignorant child who wants
to go on making mud pies
in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by
an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are
far too easily
wonderful, but if I stop there, if I allow myself to be satisfied with those
pleasures that make me happy, I will miss the deep joy and peace that I could
experience as I become more like Christ and exercise the gifts He has given me
for His purposes and His glory.
The Declaration of Independence
tells us that we are entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness.”That is a good foundation
for a republic that respects the lives and rights of its citizens, but it is an
incomplete recipe for success for those who have committed their lives to
Christ.Happiness is neither the means
nor the end of a life of faith. It is not a measure of success.Moments and seasons of happiness are gifts
from our loving God in our journey toward Him.
Our Lord has no objection to
happiness as long as it does not interfere with His greater desires for us—the
deep joy and peace we experience as we become more like Christ and exercise the
gifts He has given us for His purposes and His glory.More often than we would like, though, happiness
gets in the way of God’s purposes, and we are called to endure trials and meet
challenges as we follow our Lord.As we
begin this new year and face the cold, gray, and damp New Jersey winter, let us
not be discouraged by the times when we are experiencing an apparent lack of
happiness.Instead, may we enjoy the
times of happiness we experience as we pursue that which has eternal value and
keep our eyes fixed on the Source of all good and all good gifts.