• Rev. Mark Tews

The "Secret" of Happiness

“Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgement belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.” (Deuteronomy 1:17).

The book of Deuteronomy was written by Moses and is known as the second giving of God’s Law. It is a book that is written for the common church-goer. In this book we find that utter loyalty to the Lord is demanded, requiring a complete separation from false gods and idols and any worship thereof.

There are many in the Christian church who have faithfully worshiped God, even through difficult times. God is always faithful and calls us to be faithful as well; He will not fail to bring about His purpose and plan. Yet, there are some who do not realize that God is also jealous and will not tolerate a rival, idolized god or our divided loyalty. He demands our unwavering obedience to Him. This obedience brings blessings and life from God. Disobedience and falling into temptations will only bring sorrow and fear.

Deuteronomy is a book that was used by Jesus often and most notedly when He was tempted by Satan. To defeat Satan’s temptations, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:13, and 6:16. In this book, we see that allegiance to God is true godliness. This allows for no compromise with anything that is offensive to God and calls for a separation from all that is unacceptable in our relationships or pleasures.

Obedience would have brought the Israelites into the blessings God wanted them to have in eleven days. Instead, they had forty years of frustration and hardship. The forty days of the travels of the scouts of Canaan became the pattern for their suffering: one year for each day. So, for forty years they would recount their misjudgments. Israel’s refusal to carry out the Lord’s commission to conquer the land was the climactic act of rebellion for which God condemned a whole generation to die in the desert.

The secret of happiness is not to do what you like to do, but to learn to like what you have to do. Too many people think that happiness is an end in and of itself. In reality, happiness is a lifelong pursuit. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). The “things” Jesus spoke of were the basic needs of life: food, drink, and clothes. He told us not to make these the chief goal of our lives but to “seek... His Kingdom” and all these needs of ours would be supplied. That is the secret of happiness.

Too many people are wandering around in what is second best for their lives when they could be enjoying the fullness of God’s blessing. Moses declared all that the Lord had commanded them to hear. He gave the people, for a second time, God’s Law, that the people might hear the truth and walk in God’s ways. How many times do we need to hear the truth before we follow it with all our hearts? The Israelites were called to possess the land the Lord had promised them. Have we ever missed what God has promised us?

As Jesus said, “the truth will set [us] free.” (John 8:32). He also said, "According to your faith [what you believe] be it done to you." (Matthew 9:29). When God plants His calling upon your heart and mind, DO NOT BE AFRAID, trust Him to give you the courage to go ahead with it regardless of what others think. Trust Him to give you the wisdom to know how to do it, and the zeal to finish it. For judgment belongs to God alone.

Moses spoke with faith, which we should also have for a healthy spiritual life. He knew of the mountains and the Amorites that were in the way of possessing the Promised Land. He also knew that the land was from God as a gift. These words were said fifty-two times in Deuteronomy: "Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Just a moment of unbelief, defiance, partiality, or calculated refusal to receive God’s blessings can compromise your future happiness.

“Never be lacking in enthusiasm, but keep your spiritual intensity, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11). There once was an energetic young man who began as a clerk in a hardware store. The inventory included thousands of dollars’ worth of items that were obsolete or seldom called for by customers. The young man figured that no thriving business could carry such an inventory and still show a healthy profit. He proposed a sale to get rid of the stuff. The owner was reluctant but finally agreed to let him set up a table in the middle of the store to sell off a few of the oldest items. Every product was priced at ten cents. The sale was a success and the young fellow got permission to run a second sale. It, too, went over just as well as the first. This gave the young clerk an idea. Why not open a store that would sell only nickel and dime items? The young man’s boss was not enthusiastic. "The plan will never work," he said. "You can’t find enough items to sell at a nickel and a dime." The young man was disappointed but eventually went ahead on his own.

His name was F.W. Woolworth, as in the F.W. Woolworth Five-and-Dime Company. Years later, his old boss lamented, "As near as I can figure it, every word I used in turning Woolworth down has cost me about a million dollars!" One of the age-old killers of enthusiasm is: "It can’t be done." But if the idea comes from God, it will always be done! It may not be easy, but it can be done. Let us therefore go and do all that God calls us to do.