On my best days I view my battle against sin as a battle for my joy.
On my best days I fight to obey because I believe that the commands of the Lord are not burdensome; I believe that God is out for my good, not to withhold from me, but to give more.
But honestly, on my best days, my fight for holiness is generally just worship of my own comfort.
For the past couple of days I’ve been writing about Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple and the differences between how he and I see the world.
Solomon asks God to be faithful to His people and lead them to love Him and obey Him for one specific reason:
that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. (1 Kings 8:60 ESV)
Solomon thinks the benefit of obedience is God’s exaltation.
I think the benefit of obedience is that I get a happier life.
It’s sneaky because the two views are exactly the same in a million ways but so different too.
It was a HUGE step in my faith for me to realize that God’s commands aren’t a threat to my joy. Learning that He values my happiness was a thrilling breakthrough. But I got confused. I forgot to ask the question: why does obedience make me happy?
Walking in God’s commandments doesn’t just feel great because I was made to walk that way. Walking in God’s commands feels great because it lets others see the truth about God and that – that is the key to my joy.
I have had a million and one conversations about fighting lust so that I can have a better sex life in marriage. Honestly – fighting lust might lead to a better sex-life in marriage, but that shouldn’t be the primary reason I do it.
When I’m fighting lust I am showing the world that God is valuable. I’m showing them that He’s trustworthy. And that should be the secret of my joy.
I know that Holiness is supposed to make me happier, but I don’t want that to be primarily because it protects me from heartbreak, or preserves a marriage or protects me from the crappy feelings of guilt and shame. I want it to make me happier because it makes much of God. I want holiness to taste better to me because it makes much of God and that is my favorite taste.
Let your glory be my deepest joy. Please God.
I have people in my life that I love and seeing them be made much of genuinely fills my heart with pleasure, so I know it’s possible for us humans to find real happiness in someone else’s exaltation.
I believe more and more that this is the key to it all: finding our deepest pleasure and thrilling happiness in the moments when Christ is exalted.
I can’t even imagine what would be different in my life if my bottom line was the same as Solomon’s: people around me seeing the glory of God. Sounds so obvious, but living this way would change everything.
If my deepest joy really was God’s glory, I could have joy in any circumstances. And not just the dull Christian joy that is a sense of hope that things will one day better, but a true and deep delight in the happiness that comes from displaying the truth of God to the universe.
When I feel ignored or overlooked at work, I would have this secret thrill in my heart of knowing that trusting God is sovereign is making much of Him to a universal audience.
When I sense the temptation to text people a boy to make him love me, I would hesitate and wonder what I can do to reflect true things about the greatness and goodness of my King, and I would be as happy as if I got a sweet text from that very same guy – just at the thought of reflecting truth about God.
When I am tempted by lust, by discontentment, by anxiety, I would pursue instead the great pleasure it is to worship God on His great and sovereign throne – giving me all I need for life and godliness.
To see you high and lifted up. For that to be my joy.
That’s why Heaven is going to be so great, by the way. Heaven is going to make us happier than we’ve ever been, not because there’s no physical pain; not because there’s no heartbreak. Heaven is going to make us happier than we’ve ever been because we will join with all the peoples of the world in seeing God’s glory displayed in all its fullness.