Happy or Miserable?

FRANKLIN LIVING— In the Gospel of John chapter 13, Jesus provides one of His greatest object lessons on what it means to be a Christian, a follower, a great leader and a happy servant of God.

After He finished, He asked the question, “Do you know what I have done to you?” We also need take a good look at this lesson, hold up our lives in contrast to it and answer Jesus’ question personally.

After washing the disciples’ feet and carefully wiping them dry with His own towel, He said we’d all be happier if we would follow His example of service (John 13:12-17).  Jesus says the blessing of happiness comes when we, from our hearts, become servants to others. It is very clear that God considers our relationships with each other very important.

On the other hand, the Lord teaches us in the words of John in Revelation 3:14-21 that even the children of God can be miserable. He tells the church in Laodicea that because they were lukewarm in their love and service to Him and one another, they were receiving the fruit of their service. He said, because they were filled with self-confidence and pride and “have need of nothing,” they were “wretched, poor, blind, naked and miserable.” Jesus counseled them to “buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich and white garments, that you may be clothed that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed.”

So what does all this mean? It appears the Lord is teaching that the blessing of happiness or the curse of being miserable is a matter of personal choice. He says we get to choose for ourselves to live in happiness or misery.

If it is your goal to be miserable most of the time, the following actions and attitudes will ensure you are successful: Think about yourself. Talk about yourself. Dwell on what you want, need and desire. Pay very close attention to what other people think and say about you and order your life according to what they want and say. Always expect to be appreciated. Be sensitive to criticism and don’t ever trust anyone. Insist on special treatment and demand others agree with your point of view. Do as little as possible for others and never accept responsibility for your actions.

If your goal is to be happy most of the time, do it the way Jesus says. Do something to help solve your own problems and always accept your obligations. Plan ahead, set realistic goals and welcome new experiences with optimism. Use your God-given talents and put your best effort into everything you do. Share your joys and sorrows with others and reach out to them with a helpful spirit. Learn to be content in whatever state you find yourself. Love like Jesus loves, without expecting anything in return.

What’s it going to be? Do you choose happiness the Lord’s way or misery doing what seems right in your eyes?  Let’s overcome whatever is holding us back! Jesus can make tomorrow better than today.


Trae Durden has been the preaching minister at North Highlands church of Christ in Russellville since January 2013. He is married to Leann Durden, and they have a daughter, Darcy Grace, 15, and a son, Dalton, 12.

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