The Most Vital Factor in Happiness
MATERIAL things can be the source of some happiness. Even more important as a source of happiness (as pointed out in the previous article) is the genuine love people can show for one another. However, there is something more important than all other things as a source of happiness for humans.
When Jesus said to “love your neighbor as yourself,” he said that this was the second greatest commandment that people should observe. (Matt. 22:39) What, then, was the first, and most important?
Jesus said: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” (Matt. 22:37, 38) The greatest happiness now, and in the future, will come to people only if they do this.
Why is this the case? Because Jehovah God is the Creator of humans. He formed the body and the mind. Hence, he knows far, far better than people do what will work best for their happiness.
While psychologists and philosophers experiment and speculate about which principles and rules for human behavior will work best, Jehovah God does not have to. He knows which ones are the best, since he originated them. Therefore, when we pay attention to what he says, we are getting the very best advice available to humans on what will make us happy.
The more we cooperate with God’s laws and principles, the happier we will become. To illustrate: What would happen if everybody who drove an automobile could make up his own traffic rules? You can picture the chaos that would result. At any busy intersection, you would take your life in your hands driving through, or especially when crossing as a pedestrian. There simply must be some higher authority to set reasonable rules for driving, from which we all benefit.
Similarly, Jehovah God, the Creator, has established the best rules and principles of behavior for humans. They really work. They are practical and get the best results. If we ignore them we ask for trouble, just as surely as would drivers if they should abandon the rules of driving. Indeed, a fundamental reason why there is so much trouble on earth is that people want to make up their own rules.
The Bible calls the Creator “the happy God.” (1 Tim. 1:11) It follows, then, that those who do God’s will, abiding by his instructions for human behavior, can reflect this happiness or have a measure of it.
That is why the psalmist wrote: “O Jehovah of armies, happy is the man that is trusting in you.” And it is said: “Happy are the ones faultless in their way, the ones walking in the law of Jehovah. Happy are those observing his reminders.” Yes, “happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!”—Ps. 84:12; 119:1, 2; 144:15.
True, obeying God will not change the unhappy system of things that we live in at present. But it will certainly change for the better the lives of those who do want to be happier and who do look to their Creator as the Source of that happiness. And when they look to him, he responds by blessing them and helping them with his powerful active force, his holy spirit. No greater power for happiness exists in the entire universe.
This does not mean that those who do God’s will are unaffected by the troubles in the world. Certainly they are affected. They have their share of problems and sorrows. And they get sick and die as others do. But at the same time, they are happier than they would be if they did not look to God as the Source of happiness.
Also, those who serve God appreciate that their happiness at this present time is relative. That is to say, it is greater than can be achieved in any other way; yet it is not complete, perfect. Happiness cannot be perfect now.
Why not? Because all of us are born in sin, in imperfection, as the Bible shows. (Rom. 5:12) Thus, we all make mistakes, we are prone to periods of depression and unhappiness, and we are also prone to sickness and death, which mar happiness. Too, we all live in this trouble-filled, wicked system of things. As long as it lasts, even God’s servants will not be able to achieve perfect happiness.
At the same time, they find great comfort and happiness in their knowledge of God and in understanding his purpose for mankind in the near future. This helps them to keep balanced in an unbalanced world so that they do not sorrow as others do. This is the case even when a loved one dies, for, as the Bible says, those knowing God do “not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.”—1 Thess. 4:13.
Knowing God’s marvelous purpose for this earth and for mankind, his servants are not unduly distressed by the world’s troubles or by the bad people in it. So they do not retreat into a hard “shell” as many others do. (Matt. 24:12) They keep on doing the right thing, even if others do not respond or if they respond in a negative way.
The Example of Jesus
That is what Jesus did. Recall what happened when he raised the man named Lazarus from the dead. The Bible record shows that many people responded favorably to this. But not all did.
In fact, some were so perverse, the Bible says, that “from that day on they took counsel to kill” Jesus. Imagine that! How corrupt they were to respond so wickedly to such a miraculous good deed, especially when we consider that they were the religious clergy of that day! So perverse were they that these clergymen even “took counsel to kill Lazarus also”!—John 11:45, 53; 12:10, 11.
Yet Jesus did not stop putting into practice the two great commandments—those of loving God and of loving one’s neighbor. He knew that the greatest happiness and benefits come from doing God’s will regardless of how others act. That is why he could maintain his self-control and continue his kind and loving ways. As the Bible says: “When he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.”—1 Pet. 2:23.
Jesus knew that it would damage one’s happiness to be unduly upset about this world and its badness when there was no possibility of any human correcting its troubles. He knew, as did his heavenly Father, that this system of things actually would go from bad to worse until the day came when God would put it to an end.
Thus, those who show principled love for others and who show whole-souled love for God know that all the troubles of this life are temporary. Soon, this entire trouble-filled system with its sorrows will be crushed out of existence.
What does this mean for honest-hearted persons who want to do what is right? It means that the time is nearing when a new order of God’s making will be permanently established right here on earth. Then, at that time, perfect happiness will become a reality.
Bible prophecies make it very clear that the time for God to put an end to sorrow and trouble is nearing. Without fail God will replace this corrupt, worn-out old system of things with his new order of righteousness under the rule of his heavenly kingdom. That is the rulership, or government from heaven, that Jesus taught others about. (Matt. 6:9, 10) Its rule will be world wide, being the only government for all mankind. All other kingdoms will have been crushed out of existence. (Dan. 2:44) Under that kingdom, the kind of happiness that one can only partially imagine today will be a daily reality then, right here on this earth.
In that new order God’s promise is that “he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4) Even sickness and old age will be things of the past, for people living then will become physically and mentally perfect, as God purposed when he created the first man and woman. This will enable people to live forever, and on a restored paradise earth at that.—Luke 23:43.
What a delightful time that will be! Think of it—all sickness, sorrow, trouble and death will be eliminated once and for all time under God’s righteous rule! Why, even the graves will be emptied of the dead! These persons will be restored to life and to their loved ones, because “there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”—Acts 24:15.
Finally, there will be no unprincipled people to mar that happiness. “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”—Prov. 2:21, 22.
Yes, you can find greater happiness today, in spite of life’s problems. And you can find perfect happiness in the future. So, true happiness is not an impossible dream.
But to achieve it, you must learn to trust and serve the only Source of genuine happiness, the Creator, Jehovah God. Then you can look forward to the deeply satisfying and thrilling time foretold in God’s prophetic Word, which promises: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:11.