The Pursuit of Happiness

Recently, we celebrated the 237th birthday of the United States of America. We celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Though few have read this important document in its entirety, we are familiar with some of the wording, particularly the part that reads:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

What makes America great is that that it gives people the freedom to pursue what is the right thing to do. Freedom does not mean the ability to do whatever one wants, but the ability to do what one should do. People should have the freedom to speak out against oppressive governments, and so the First Amendment to the Constitution was created. People should be free to live lives without the government entering into their privacy, and so the Fourth Amendment was created. All these rights were given to the “We the People” so that we could have “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

I think we all understand what it means to pursue happiness. We want to make our lives as pleasant, comfortable, and joyful as possible. There is nothing wrong with enjoying what is around us, as the Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:17 says: “God… giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” However, we all have a different idea of what brings happiness and how we go about getting it. We all agree that there are things that make people happy that should be outlawed. For example, we ought to take the rights away from a man who pursues personal happiness by robbing others. Someone who finds happiness in murder should be locked up or killed. Therefore, we all agree that not all ways to pursuing happiness are good and right.

The Bible talks about the pursuit of happiness as well. In fact, the entire book of Ecclesiastes is the lamenting of one man’s futile attempt to find happiness in things. He says Ecclesiastes 2:1 “I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.” Things may bring pleasure and fun, but no ultimate happiness. Cars rust; boats sink; houses burn. However, God says that a better pursuit of happiness is found in the Scriptures. He says in Psalms 1: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” David said in Psalm 119:2 “Blessed [happy] are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” I am thankful for a country in which I can pursue happiness the way that I was “endowed by my Creator” to pursue: the gladness that comes from fellowship in His Word.

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