Kooistra’s Corner: Happiness or holiness?

Posted on February 2, 2015

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Erskine President Dr. Paul Kooistra

You have probably heard it said, “God is more concerned with your holiness that He is with your happiness.” My experience is that when this statement is made everyone nods their heads. No one challenges the validity of this “truism.” It just sounds like it comes from the Bible. But does it?

The Scriptures are quite clear that our God is a holy God. Habakkuk wrote of God, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing” (Habakkuk 1:13). Needless to say, God is deeply concerned about behavior that reflects His very nature. But God’s Word does not set up a dichotomy between his concern for your right behavior and his interest in your happiness.

I believe we can say that God made us to be happy. The picture we get of creation is a garden environment where Adam and Eve experienced an existence of completeness. Joy and pleasure were certainly a part of that paradise. Even the creation of Eve Is explained by God’s declaration that one created in His image could not be fulfilled and happy outside of an intimate relationship.

God’s redemptive plan will culminate in a new and better paradise in which “God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). We can only speculate on the joy, pleasure, and happiness that heaven will bring. But as citizens of that future glory we are to experience blessings even now. Christ has come and He has brought heaven to us (Matthew 4:17). In His presence, we can find a present happiness that is as impossible to comprehend as His peace.

Paul tells us, with great emphasis, to rejoice in the present situation because our Lord is with us and will answer our prayers.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).