Many people, young and old alike, seek pleasure in sex before or outside of marriage. Some government officials amass millions from public coffers. We often hear stories of children disregarding their parents’ authority or of parents neglecting their parental responsibilities by neglect or overwork.
All of these happen because people find their happiness by doing things they thought will bring them satisfaction. In the above cases these are the thrills of sex, the power that comes with money, the sense of freedom in doing whatever you like without someone controlling you, and the sense of significance in being recognized for one’s accomplishments in the workplace.
But our conscience will tell us that these things are wrong. And because they are wrong, they cannot bring real happiness. Superficial and temporary happiness, yes. But true and lasting happiness, absolutely not. Verse 3 of Psalm 119 makes that clear, “[Blessed are those] who also do no wrong, but walk in his (God’s) ways.”
What is happening in today’s society is that people are redefining what is right or wrong. Simply because one act is commonplace in a culture (like premarital sex) or legalized (like gambling) does not mean it is right. We better heed the warning from the book of Proverbs, “There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25).
We walk in God’s ways because his ways are right, always right. We do not define what is right and what is wrong. God does. And his Word is the moral standard of what is right or wrong. Only by conformity to his ways as written in the Bible can we find true happiness. The first three verses of Psalm 119 teach us that there is a connection between our happiness and our attitude toward God’s Word.
Here in verse 3, we can see the relationship between our heart for God’s Word and the life resulting from that. Keeping God’s Word inside our hearts and seeking him with our whole hearts (v. 2) change the way we live. True devotion to the Word of God results in a changed life. A life that is not transformed but claims to love the Word is living in hypocrisy or mere external righteousness.
The children of God love what is right and hate what is wrong because God loves what is right and hates what is wrong. The blessed man knows that true happiness comes from hating what God hates and loving what God loves. Holiness, then, is the way to happiness. So the blessed man walks in the ways of God. His thoughts, words, and actions are governed by the principles, commandments and promises of God’s Word.
James M. Boice remarks, “The reason we are not happy is that we sin, and the main reason we sin as much as we do is that we do not know the Bible well enough.”
We are sinners. That is why we are not happy. But there is good news. Look to Jesus, the only perfectly happy and perfectly holy man who lived on earth. He knows we are sinners and are, therefore, cut off from the everlasting pleasures of God in heaven. He died in our place so that his perfect righteousness and his perfect happiness will be ours. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
Many people think that holiness and happiness are mutually exclusive. But God doesn’t think so. The way of holiness is the way (the only way) of true happiness. So if you find yourself now taking the wrong way, isn’t it the right time to make a turnaround and let God’s Word guide you the rest of the way?