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Author: Ron Graham

How to be Happy

Seven Lesser Things
—And what really counts

In this series of Bible studies, we are going to think about what can make us truly and permanently happy. But to start with, we will notice what cannot.

The things that most people strive for, and through which they seek happiness, are pretty well summed up under seven headings...

Things people strive for...

  • 1. WEALTH. Money and possessions
  • 2. WELLBEING. Pleasures and wellness of the flesh
  • 3. DISCOVERY. Experience, adventure, knowledge
  • 4. IDENTITY. Personal status and self expression
  • 5. POWER. Preeminence in authority or achievement
  • 6. LOVE. Loving relationships with people and pets
  • 7. REVENGE. Punishment or payback for wrongs

You may think that this list should be ammended in some way, and that's ok. However, I hope you will accept it as reasonably and generally representative of the common things that people seek to win.

Now here's the main point I wish to make about these seven things: Whilst they are all good in their proper place, none of them is the key to happiness. They are lesser things.

Without God in your life, these things —even in abundance— won't make you happy, at least not for long. And with God in your life, these things will not be essential to your happiness should you be deprived of them.

The Bible tells us how to really be happy and none of these seven things enters into the formula. We have outlined some of the Bible's teaching below, and in the following lessons of this series.

Now let us consider some Bible values, and we will see by comparison that the things of God's word are greater by far than any of the seven things we have listed above.

1 They are Less than the things God seeks

Micah 6:8

"God has told you O man what is good, and what the Lord requires of you. It is simply to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

Is there anything greater we might admire in a person than this? If a person truly lives by the principle of Justice, and tempers it with love and humility, doesn't that person have what really counts?

And what if Satan brought pressure on such a person, by making that person have to choose between losing one or more of the seven things, or giving up doing justly? Would we not admire the person who chose to keep doing justly and to regard the things lost as lesser things?

2 They are Less than fellowship with God

1John 1:3

"What we have seen and heard, we proclaim to you also, so that you also may have fellowship with us —and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1John 1:3).

Can fellowship with God, sharing his love and goodness, walking hand in hand with him, be anything but the most amazing and glorious blessing in life? Suppose Satan makes you choose between continuing in that fellowship and losing some of the seven things? What would be your choice, and would your choice be wise or foolish?

3 They are Less than the hope of eternal life

John 3:16

"God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Not only is fellowship with God for now, but it is everlasting. Tell me what can be greater than eternal life with God? Suppose we lacked some of the seven things, and Satan promised to give them all to us in abundance if we would give up our gift of eternal life? What would we (say to Satan?

If we were sensible, we would say, "You get behind me Satan! The things you are offering me are lesser things. I have chosen greater things and I will not give them up."

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