B. Happy people live to serve others.
On the eve of His encounter with the cross, and in the presence of disciples who anxiously shuffled in His midst, Jesus took a towel, stooped to the floor, and washed twenty-four dirty feet, 240 grimy toes. He knew that when the disciples finally got the point after His resurrection, they would understand what He meant in John 13:17. “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” “These things” refers to His humble service to others, even washing dirty feet, and finally dirty souls. It is only through servitude that we discover the secret to happiness. To feel good you must do good.
Why is it that on our way to the hospital to visit a friend we argue with God? We reason that we have other important things that we could be doing. However, once there, and after a prayer and simple chatter, on our way from the hospital we feel a sense of happiness? We grumble in service but we rejoice when the service is accomplished. Rejoicing after an act of service should enlighten us to the way we are wonderfully made by God. Service brings happiness, a sense of “well done.” Only when we put our hands to work will we be able to raise our hands in rejoicing. This is the way God created us. You do good and you will feel good.
Solomon was right. “He who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he” (Pv 14:21). Christians can rejoice in the Lord always because they are always in service to others. Galatians 6:10 was not written as a simple legal act to accomplish a supposed meritorious salvation. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” This statement was written in order to reflect the nature of true Christianity and in order to exemplify in the lives of Christians what Jesus said, “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them” (Jn 13:17). Christians are happy, not because they are commanded to be so, but because of what they do. The serendipity of service is always happiness.
Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote in his best selling book, Psychocybernetics, that people must focus on others in order to be happy within themselves. “One of the most pleasant thoughts to any human being is the thought that he is needed, that he is important enough and competent enough to help and add to the happiness of some other human being.” This truth is reflected in the words of Paul to the Ephesian elders, “I have showed you all things, that by laboring as this you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (At 20:35). It is more blessed to give simply because one receives the inner satisfaction of happiness when giving things rather than receiving things. I understand from this principle of Jesus that receiving or acquiring things is less blessed than giving things to others. If you would be truly happy, therefore, you must be a giver. The more you give, the happier you are.
C. Happy people focus on good.
In McGuffey’s Stories for children, there is the story of the Old Clock. The Old Clock ticked away until one day it started thinking about all the ticks it had to do for an entire year, a total of 31,560,000 ticks. As he concentrated on that tremendous number of ticks, discouragement set in, and finally, he ceased ticking. After some silence, the Old Clock thought for a moment. “How much effort is there in making only one tick?” He then proceeded to make one tick. “Not so bad.” Then two ticks were made in succession. Then three. Then one hundred. And finally, the Old Clock was back to ticking, thinking on only one tick at a time.
Some poet inscribed,
Don’t you trouble trouble;
Till trouble troubles you.
Don’t you look for trouble;
Let trouble look for you.
The problem with life is that we often look for trouble. We go to too many pity parties. But it would be good to remember what the Holy Spirit wrote in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.”
It is not natural to remember bad experiences. Think for a moment. Our minds naturally remember good things that happened to us in the past. We remember great experiences with people, events that brought us happiness and joy. Our minds naturally suppress bad experiences, but focus on good experiences. Yes, we do forget the bad of the past. This is the way God made us. It is only natural to think on that which is good. So if it is natural to think on the good, then that is exactly what we must do. Our present happiness must not be determined by our past library of bad experiences. Our minds naturally do not want us to determine our present state of mind by our past experiences. You cannot build a happy present state of mind over guilt of things in the past. Just do what Paul said, “I count not myself to have laid hold. But one thing I do, foregetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things that are before” (Ph 3:13).
Neither should our present happiness be determined by our present environment or circumstances. Unfortunate circumstances should not determine our inward state of mind. Dr. Matthew N. Chappel wrote, “Happiness is purely internal. It is produced, not by objects, but by ideas, thoughts and attitudes which can be developed and constructed by the individual’s own activities, irrespective of the environment.” True happiness is internally developed, not externally controlled.
Focusing on that which is good destroys worry about tomorrow. Matthew 6:34 is more than an exhortation. It involves a promise that changes our present mental behavior. “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” If we mentally forecast bad times to come, we will unconsciously work toward our forecast. The opposite is also true. If we anticipate that things will be better, sure enough, they will be better. So why ask for trouble when we do not have to be delivered a bag of troubled goods?
We must not be a member of a television audience where the program director holds up a card that says, “Laugh”, or “Applause.” We do not have to allow life to dictate to us our mental state of mind. We can choose to be happy. We can choose by focusing on good in order to determine our emotional destiny. Our present state of mind is our choice. Neither the environment or people with whom we work can determine our happiness.