He who lays up treasures on earth spends his life backing away from his treasures. To him, death is loss. He who lays up treasures in heaven looks forward to eternity; he’s moving daily toward his treasures. To him, death is gain. He who spends his life moving toward his treasures has reason to rejoice. Are you despairing or rejoicing?
I pray, O God, that I may know Thee, that I may love Thee, so that I may rejoice in Thee. And if I cannot do this to the full in this life, at least let me go forward from day to day until that joy comes to fullness.
Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure; Where your treasure is, there is your heart; Where your heart is, there is your happiness.
True joy comes only from God and He shares this joy with those who walk in fellowship with Him.
While all men seek after happiness, scarcely one in a hundred looks for it from God.
We only cease to be the slave of one appetite because another taste has brought it into subordination. A youth may cease to idolize sensual pleasure, but it’s only because the idol of material gain has gotten the ascendancy. There is not one personal transformation in which the heart is left without an object of ultimate beauty and joy. Its desire for one particular object may be conquered, but its desire to have some object is unconquerable. The only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one.
The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted.
God created man for nothing else but happiness. He created him only that He might communicate happiness to him.
Jesus knew that all mankind were in the pursuit of happiness. He has directed them in the true way to it, and He tells them what they must become in order to be blessed and happy.
[This desire for happiness is] insuperable,…never can be changed…never can be overcome, or in any way abated. Young and old love happiness alike, and good and bad, wise and unwise.
They certainly are the wisest men that do those things that make the most for their happiness, and this in effect is acknowledged by all men in the world, for there is no man upon the earth who isn’t earnestly seeking after happiness, and it appears abundantly by the variety of ways they so vigorously seek it.
Resolved: To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of."
Jesus warns us that in spending our lives we should be wise shoppers, guarding our hearts against the false advertisements of this world. For whatever we value most in life becomes our “treasure.” And our treasure becomes our hope. In turn, our hope determines how we act, since we always spend our lives on whatever we think will make us happy.
If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we 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 around 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 the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
We all desire to be happy. That is something that is innate in human nature; nobody wants to be miserable, though I am aware of the fact that there are people who seem to enjoy being miserable and some who seem to find their happiness in being unhappy!
The more you know Him, the better you know Him, the more confident you become, the more secure your joy is… Joy is related to your knowledge of God: little knowledge, little joy; much knowledge, much joy. The more you know of God’s glorious truth, of God’s great covenants and promises, of God’s plans, of God’s faithfulness, of God’s power, the more joy you experience in life… Our joy is connected to the goodness of the Lord. And the more you understand His grace and mercy and goodness, the more stable your joy becomes, no matter what circumstances may come.
To gain entire likeness to Christ, I ought to get a high esteem of the happiness of it. I am persuaded that God’s happiness is inseparably linked in with His holiness. Holiness and happiness are like light and heat. God never tasted one of the pleasures of sin. Christ has a body such as I have, yet He never tasted one of the pleasures of sin. The redeemed, through all eternity, will never taste one of the pleasures of sin; yet their happiness is complete… Every sin is something away from my greatest enjoyment… The devil strives night and day to make me forget this or disbelieve it. He says, Why should you not enjoy this pleasure as much as Solomon or David? You may go to heaven also. I am persuaded this is a lie — that my true happiness is to go and sin no more.
But according to my judgment, the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things, see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord! Other things may press upon you; the Lord’s work even, may have urgent claims upon your attention. But I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all other things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself. Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life.
In what way shall we attain to this settled happiness of soul? How shall we learn to enjoy God? How shall we obtain such an all-sufficient soul-satisfying portion in Him as shall enable us to let go the things this world as vain and worthless in comparison? I answer, this happiness is to be obtained through the study of Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ.
There is only one way to live: all-out, go-for-broke, risk-taking enthusiasm for Christ. Halfway Christianity is the most miserable existence of all. Halfhearted Christians know enough about their sin to feel guilty about themselves, but they haven’t given themselves enough to the Savior to become happy in Him.
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even to those who hang themselves.
Let it not be imagined that the life of a good Christian must be a life of melancholy and gloominess; for he only resigns some pleasures to enjoy others infinitely better.
The pursuit of our interest and our happiness is never above God’s, but always in God’s. The most precious truth in the Bible is that God’s greatest interest is to glorify the wealth of His grace by making sinners happy in Him… Therefore Christian Hedonists do not put their happiness above God’s glory when they pursue their happiness in Him.
Pursuing joy in God and praising God are not separate acts.
Christian Hedonism is utterly committed to loving like Jesus. We do not presume to live by motives greater than the ones He lived by. What hinders love in the world today? Is it that we are all trying to please ourselves? No! It is because we are all too easily pleased.
Love is the pursuit of our joy in the holy joy of the beloved. There is no way to exclude self-interest from love, for self-interest is not the same as selfishness. Selfishness seeks its own private happiness at the expense of others. Love seeks its happiness in the happiness of the beloved. It will even suffer and die for the beloved in order that its joy might be full in the life and purity of the beloved.
Joy is not just the spin-off of obedience to God, but part of obedience. It seems as though people are willing to let joy be a byproduct of our relationship to God, but not an essential part of it. People are uncomfortable saying that we are duty-bound to pursue joy. They say things like, “Don’t pursue joy, pursue obedience.” But Christian Hedonism responds, “That’s like saying, ‘Don’t eat apples; eat fruit.'” Because joy is an act of obedience. We are commanded to rejoice in God. If obedience is doing what God commands, then joy is not merely the spin-off of obedience, it is obedience. The Bible tells us over and over to pursue our joy (Psm. 32:11; 37:4; 67:4; Lk. 10:20; Phil. 4:4).
If Christ’s honor is our passion, the pursuit of pleasure in Him is our duty.
The Scriptures command joy, hope, fear, peace, grief, desire, tenderheartedness, brokenness and contrition, gratitude, lowliness, etc. Therefore Christian Hedonism is not making too much of emotion when it says that being satisfied in God is our calling and duty.
The great hindrance to worship is not that we are a pleasure-seeking people, but that we are willing to settle for such pitiful pleasures.
Christianity is a divine project of replacing inferior joys in inferior objects with superior joys in God Himself.
Christian Hedonism is a philosophy of life built on the following five convictions:
1. The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful.
2. We should never try to deny or resist our longings to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction.
3. The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God. Not from God, but in God.
4. The happiness we find in God reaches its consummation when it is shared with others in the manifold ways of love.
5. To the extent we try to abandon the pursuit of our own pleasure, we fail to honor God and love people. Or, to put it positively: the pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of all worship and virtue. That is, the chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever.
Christian Hedonism does not make a god out of pleasure. It says you have already made a god out of whatever you take most pleasure in.
My quest for happiness is now nothing other than a quest for God. And He has been found in Jesus Christ.
There is a close connection between sin and sorrow, holiness and happiness, sanctification and consolation.
Those that look to be happy must first look to be holy.
I think the common belief that in order to serve someone in love means that we need to give up our concern for ourselves is totally false. Rather I believe we honor people the most when we can pursue our happiness in serving them. For example, when I visit people in the hospital they either say, “Thank you” or “You didn’t have to come, Pastor.” What’s the most loving response on my part? “It’s my duty?” “Just doing my job?” Of course not! What if I say, “I’ve been looking forward to being with you all day, and right now there is no other place I’d rather be.” Would the person respond, “There you go again, only thinking about yourself!” No, they would take my pursuing of joy in them as the highest form of love!
Often indifference to our Creator’s wise guidelines reveals a heart that is simply disinterested in its own happiness!
God made us to pursue our joy. Joy is even a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Therefore I believe the pursuit of joy it is a good drive within us. I believe there is no problem with pursuing our happiness so long as our pursuit of happiness is in the pursuit of God’s glory. In other words, the problem is not with the passion, but rather the problem is with the paths to happiness that we often choose.
We pursue our pleasure in God because it is the wisest pursuit to bring us the greatest pleasure, but we also pursue our pleasure in God because it’s the greatest way we can bring Him the most glory!
We are far too easily appeased and far too frequently deceived. As humans, we often pursue our inner desire for happiness in the superficial, sugar-coated sin morsels, temporary trinkets of the world. In this pursuit, we are not satisfied and God is not glorified. This is a radical call for faith. Contrary to the world’s pursuits and our internal cravings, we need to believe that doing it God’s way (according to His words in the Bible) will not only bring Him the greatest glory, but also bring us the greatest joy. We need to believe that our highest joy and God’s greatest glory do not compete, but are rather tethered to each other as one unified pursuit.
What does in mean to be spiritually poor? It means to be humble. It means to understand that you have no merit to offer to God. It means to understand that all you deserve is hell. It means to understand that you are spiritually bankrupt. It means to understand the unfathomable riches of Christ that by God’s sovereign grace have been accredited to your account. It means to boast not in yourself, but in Christ. It means emptying yourself of all your pride that the Holy Spirit might fill you with all of Christ… The humble pursuit of spiritual poverty is the path to true happiness. Empty of self, filled with the Holy Spirit and His fruit of joy.
To bring His chosen [people] to eternal happiness was the high ambition which inspired [Jesus Christ], and made Him wade through a sea of blood.
The single most important principle I ever discovered is this: the goal or purpose of the Christian is precisely the pursuit of happiness – in God. The reason for this is that there is no greater way to glorify God than to find in Him the happiness that my soul so desperately craves.
One of the worst injustices the church has perpetuated against its members is proclaiming a message of the evil of desire. God created us with a longing to be thrilled, hungry for the joy of being fascinated. Yet we have told people to stop wanting and to stop yearning; we’ve urged them to ignore, suppress, or anesthetize their desire for happiness. And, if such teachings should fail, we have worked hard to make them feel the sting of guilt and shame. All this will do is drive passion underground, so to speak, only to have it erupt at some moment of weakness when temptation offers a fleeting fulfillment.
The reason we resist God’s laws and pursue our own sinful strategies is because we believe that we can do better at securing our happiness than God can.
I’m a hedonist because I believe it is impossible to desire pleasure too much. But I’m a Christian hedonist because I believe the pleasure we cannot desire too much is pleasure in God and all that He is for us in Jesus.
Your heart will always be drawn to whatever brings it greatest joy. Don’t apologize for it. This isn’t the result of poor nurture or genetic error or inadequate education. Far less is it the fruit of sin. God created you with a “joy meter” in your soul, such that you invariably choose whatever options in life register most loudly and most deeply. You may be emotionally bruised, perhaps black and blue, from beating up on yourself for wanting to feel good or for wanting to experience happiness and joy. Stop it! Don’t repent.
Your choice isn’t whether to passionately seek pleasure. Trust me, you do. Your only option is where you’ll look or whom you’ll love or whose offer of pleasure you’ll accept. I hardly need remind you, or perhaps I do, that the world will do everything in its power and employ whatever means necessary and spare no expense to capture the allegiance of your heart.
Happiness is the primary object of human pursuit. The desire for happiness, urges our weary steps in the pilgrimage of life.
It is only through God’s Holy Spirit that we can find true joy (Psalm 51:11-12; Galatians 5:22; 1 Thessalonians 1:6). We can do nothing apart from the power of God (2 Corinthians 12:10, 13:4). Indeed, the harder we try to be joyful through our own efforts, the more miserable we can become. Rest in the Lord’s arms (Matthew 11:28-30) and seek His face through prayer and Scripture. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Would it not be an encouragement to a subject, to hear his prince say to him, “You will honor and please me very much, if you will go to yonder mine of gold, and dig as much gold for yourself as you can carry away”? So, for God to say, “Go to the ordinances, get as much grace as you can, dig out as much salvation as you can; and the more happiness you have, the more I shall count Myself glorified!”