(Prov. 16:4; Rev. 4:11; Rom. 11:36)
While man is the pinnacle of creation (Gen. 2:5, 7), we are not, nor were we meant to be, the focal point as the texts for this lesson indicate. The Bible clearly states what the business of mankind is to be, as ordained by God (Mat. 5:16; Isa. 61:3; John 15:8; 1 Cor. 14:25; 2 Cor. 9:13; Gal. 1:24; 2 The. 1:10-12; 1 Pet. 2:12; 4:11, 14). It should be noted that since we are in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27), that each of our characteristics must serve some purpose. Our emotional system must therefore serve some purpose intended to glorify God and to serve man in the process. Of what purpose is our emotional system in regards to the condition of happiness?
We must first understand God’s purposes to appreciate the role of joy and happiness. God’s creative ability was vividly demonstrated in the six days of creation: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (1:31). Creation was accomplished in a way that was more than merely adequate for man’s needs (1:27-2:25; 3:8-9); for his responsibility (1:28), sustenance (1:29), moral consideration (2:9, 16-17), creativity (2:19), socialization (2:20-25), etc. All things were created for His glory (Isa. 43:7, 21), even the evil will glorify God (Pro. 16:4; Rom. 11:36).
In the next place, how do I, as one created in God’s image, fulfill my obligation to glorify God? By accepting my responsibility of stewardship (1 Cor. 4:1-2; Tit. 1:7; 1 Pet. 4:10)! Jesus informs us in Luke 12:35-38, 42, that a faithful steward will be one that is anticipating their Lord’s return at any moment ready to spring into action (12:35-36) with such readiness indicating wisdom and faithfulness (12:42).
A steward that is unfaithful is the one that is wasteful and unjust in the handling of his master’s wealth (Luke 16:1-8). As a faithful steward what are my obligations in all of this? The Lord provides insight into our responsibilities in the parable found in Luke 19:12-27. A certain nobleman was to go into a far place to receive a kingdom and then return. Prior to his departure he provides money to various servants and then commands them to occupy till he returns whereupon he will have an accounting. Only one of the ten servants did nothing, simply returning what he had been given. It is obvious that the command “Occupy” and the subsequent time of accounting meant that faithful servants will actually be accountable for even minimal activity (19:20-23). It would be profitable for us to note for further study the events related by Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 and how stewardship relates to the command “Occupy.”
I will be a successful and faithful steward by ordering the very core of my being (Luke 6:45; Pro. 23:7) to align my whole life with the Word (Col. 3:17).
Now let us observe the practical effects of ordering our lives along the pathway of faithful stewardship. In carrying out my stewardship, I will have accepted the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9; Phi. 2:10-11; Isa. 45:22-25; Heb. 5:9; Col. 3:24). I will next recognize that as a bond servant (John 12:26; Rom. 6:16-18; Eph. 1:7, 14), I have surrendered my whole self to Him (Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:1-4). Last, I am taking on the mind of Christ (Phi. 2:5-8) becoming more like Him each day so I will be as He is when He returns (1 John 3:2-3, 7; 4:17).
All of this being the case, what role does my emotional system have as it pertains to happiness and joy as a steward of God? I view temptations differently than before (Jam. 1:2-5). Strong defines temptations as “a putting to proof (by experiment (of good), experience (of evil), solicitation, discipline or provocation); by implication, adversity.” Such occasions could be indicators of our faithfulness consequential to my new lifestyle (Mat. 5:10-12; Acts 5:41). It is in such occasions we learn patience because we are in the company of the faithful of the ages that have likewise suffered greatly for the faith (Mat. 5:12; Heb. 12:1).
I understand some suffering may be designed for God’s glory (Job 1-3; John 9:1-5; 1 Cor. 10:13). It is possible that suffering can turn us back to God (Psa. 18:6). If we are sufficiently aware, it may be that sins’ consequence can cause us to see sin as it really is (Rom. 5:12). Suffering can cause me to realize what is truly valuable.
I ought to learn that there are consequences to my sin that will cause me to lose privileges (Heb. 12:14-17). Even though I repent, I must accept God’s judgment and be content with what I do have left to me (Phi. 3:8; 1 Tim. 6:6-9). Paul had a thorn in the flesh, for which he had no responsibility that he adjusted to (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
In closing it should be understood that happiness is not an externally caused emotion. Happiness is internal and a matter of choice and attitude. If the only time I am happy is when I am at Disney World, then, unless I work there, I can only be happy but few times in a year or even a lifetime.
God has constructed this world in such a way that we can be happy and content if we choose to. Likewise, we can choose to live in harmony with God’s law and reap the benefits as promised (Mat. 3:7; John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; Col. 3:6; 1 The. 1:10). Since I am also responsible for my words, thoughts and deeds that flow from my heart, then I must subdue my emotions and direct them to be in harmony with God’s will. If my sin causes me to lose privileges, then I must adjust to that.