If it makes you happy, why are you so sad. The opening chorus for an old Sheryl Crow song played on the radio the other day when I was driving home from the office.
In her song she talks about all sorts of things that people do because they say, it makes them happy. But she keeps asking, if it “makes you happy, why are you so sad?” If you say it makes you happy, but it doesn’t, then you try to do something else that you think will make you happy, but it doesn’t either, round and round you go.
How’s that look in your life. Making decisions based on what will make us happy or what we will think what will make us happy, following our hearts:
- Sometimes it comes across for us when we say or we think, if I say hurtful words about a person and spend some time gossiping about them behind my back, it’ll make me happy. Our thought life probably doesn’t ever say, it will make me happy, but it does say this is something I should do, I want to do it, it’ll make me feel better and maybe they deserve it.
- Or when we are holding on to anger, we tell ourselves we have the right to do this, to hold on to this anger, maybe I’ll forgive but I’ll never forget what they’ve done to me, which really is the same thing as not forgiving someone and keeping yourself chained to the past. But I deserve this.
- Or when temptations seek after us and we seek after them and our heart tell’s us we should do this, it’ll make us happy, but then it doesn’t and it causes more problems than it was worth and we start asking again, will you make me happy?
So we keep looking inside our heads for the answers we are looking for, will this make me happy, will that make me happy, what about when it doesn’t, will you make me happy, are you what I want?
We never get a straight answer from our own heads about what we are looking for, one moment we are so obsessed with one thing it doesn’t seem like we can ever stop thinking about it and the next we wonder why on earth we were so caught up with it.
Do you like that kind of roller coaster, relying upon the up’s and down’s of our own emotions? I know I don’t. I can’t never find any security there or anything remotely steady. I don’t like feeling like I’m being torn in so many directions with my own head and not really being able to answer my own question.
We’ve become so accustomed to this cultural teaching, that has told us, from a very early age, that we should follow our heart. But we’ve spent a lot of time following that advice and it hasn’t really gotten us anywhere. Sure sometimes it works. Like when someone falls deeply in love with a person and they follow their heart and get married to them and its good. But then down the line, when life happens as it always will and they grow apart because they didn’t work on the relationship, following your heart means feeling in love again with someone else because I don’t feel in love with my spouse anymore. Over and over again, following the heart and never landing somewhere real.
If this is true of our everyday choices and temptations what about how those everyday choices effect our spiritual life and our eternal destination?
That should tell us something, our own heads and hearts are not always and maybe not usually the best compasses to guide our lives and decisions we make. Sure, they will always be a part of the equation, but should they be the most important part? Probably, not. Our compass is broken and we need a new guide.
As Christians then, we confess and believe that God’s Word is a light to my path and a guide to my feet. That is, God’s Word tells us what to do. Notice, that in many parts there is not a lot of conversation about how you feel about what God tells us to do. What we see instead is God telling us in no certain terms: Love your neighbor as yourself. Pray for your enemies. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Speak well of others and do not murder in thought, word or deed. Pray without ceasing and keep the Sabbath day separate to receive God’s blessings.
- Love your neighbor as yourself. But I don’t think it’ll make me happy? Love your neighbor as yourself anyways.
- Pray for your enemies. I don’t feel like. Pray for your enemies anyways.
- Forgive and speak well of others. My heart tells me no. Forgive and speak swell of others anyways.
- Pray without ceasing and keep the sabbath day. I don’t want to, I wanna do something else. Doesn’t matter. Pray and keep the Sabbath.
Notice that God’s Word takes you out of the equation. It doesn’t ask how we feel about it, what the current culture says about it, what we want to do with it, it doesn’t ask you at all your opinion on things. God’s Word simply tells us what to do.
We balk at that and fight against that. It’s like saying someone else knows far better what is good for me than I do! That is a humbling thought when we are faced with the honesty and truthfulness of that statement, especially when I admit to the truth that I don’t always know best, my heart doesn’t always want what is right and my choices don’t always line up with who I say I am.
Maybe, I don’t know best…
God does know better than I do on how my life should be lived.
Eek! That is a tough pill to swallow! That goes completely against the grain on what we feel and what have been taught. You don’t know best and neither do I, God does! This means if we want to receive what is best in our lives it means relinquishing our lives and our control to God and let God tell us what to do.
That’s kinda scary and our first thought is can I trust God with my life?
God did not leave us just hanging and say something like “don’t worry, trust me” without knowing if you could. Instead God said, here I am in Jesus, and look this is where this Christian life leads, I will personally show you what can happen. I always appreciate that in a leader and I try to emulate that myself, I’ll never ask someone to do something that I haven’t done already or am willing to do with them. God leads from the front and shows us what this Christian life can and does look like, letting God tell us what to do. It is filled with joys beyond comparison and also can be filled with great heartache and suffering, even to the point of death. God even died on the cross, this is how it is. But Jesus also rose from the dead, has victory over everything that hurts us and prepares a life in heaven and a eternal home with Him for those that follow Him in faith.
God died but he rose from the dead to show us that He is trustworthy and that we can place our trust in what He tells us to do.
But that’s not to say that we turn our brains off in this life. Each and every command of God is dynamic, demanding and doable in Jesus and it takes all that we have to creatively and faithfully apply these commands in our life. But in the end It comes down to this, Do you trust Jesus with your life, with all you are and with all that is to come after you die? You can, He has proven that Jesus alone is the way, the truth the life. If you do, obey His commands, God knows best on how our lives should be led.
And at the end of the day, for those who follow His commands, (which includes seeking forgiveness when we don’t-that is a command as well) there is no extra reward for faithfulness or more exalted stature, it is “only” the gift of eternal life, which is more than we could ever earn on our own.
Christians don’t follow our hearts, we follow Jesus.