Enjoying God's gifts
From the very beginning, God manifested His desire to bring joy and happiness to the human beings He created.
By MARLEX C. CANTOR
“Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.” (Prov. 17:22 Good News Bible)
THIS BIBLICAL PASSAGE must serve as a reminder for the problematic and the burdened soul. It surely will not help if we bury ourselves in sorrow. In fact, doing so will only make matters worse as it can harm our health and shorten our life.
So, instead of having a negative view in life because of so many problems, let us cheer up and be happy. It is helpful to recount the wonderful deeds intended for all of us by the Almighty One Who gave us this life.
God’s gifts to mankind
From the very beginning, God manifested His desire to bring joy and happiness to the human beings He created. The Bible enumerates the things God created for the enjoyment of all humankind:
Food. God created earth as man’s home and filled it with all of nature’s bounty. He designed our environment in such a way that we can find food to satisfy our hunger and thus be happy:
“But he has always given evidence of his existence by the good things he does: he gives you rain from heaven and crops at the right times; he gives you food and fills your hearts with happiness.” (Acts 14:17 GNB)
Work. While He cast out the first couple out of paradise because of sin, God’s desire for man to be happy did not end. He commanded man to work for his needs, thus giving him the opportunity to savor the joy of harnessing the fruits of his labor:
“Your work will provide for your needs; you will be happy and prosperous.” (Ps. 128:2 GNB)
Friendship. Another way by which man can afford happiness is through the company of friends whom he can rely on to listen to him and give sound advice when needed. The Bible acknowledges that the pleasure we gain from such friendship is also in accordance with God’s plan:
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.” (Prov. 27:9 New International Version)
Knowledge. God made us different from the rest of the living creatures in that we possess the ability to think rationally. When this uniqueness is served through the pursuit of knowledge, pleasure can be attained:
“You will become wise, and your knowledge will give you pleasure.” (Prov. 2:10 GNB)
Marriage. Still for the happiness of the human being whom God created male and female, He established the sacred institution called marriage:
“So be happy with your wife and find your joy with the girl you married.” (Prov. 5:18 GNB)
God willed that a man and a woman find happiness in each other’s company through marriage. Together they can build their own family and have children to stand by them as they grow old. So, more than just sexual satisfaction, marriage offers emotional, social, psychological, and spiritual assurance of having a family and a caring partner for life.
With all these wonderful creations of God, we should understand that it is truly His desire and intention that we be happy. So, let us look at life with a positive outlook, considering these gifts that God has given for the happiness of the people He created.
How not to abuse happiness
However, we should be careful not to abuse the satisfaction that can be drawn from food, work, knowledge, friendship, and marriage. Inasmuch as all these gifts come from God, He tells us the proper way of using or dealing with them. Thus, we should follow the rules that He gave, which are found in the Bible. They may be summed up as follows:
1. Don’t indulge in gluttony and drunkenness.Concerning food intake, the Bible warns:
“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor.”
(Prov. 23:20–21 NIV)
Maintaining a good diet is essential to sustaining our health and to having a long life. Abusing our physical bodies by indulging in gluttony and drunkenness—with alcohol or worse, with drugs—can ruin our health, suck dry our entire fortune, and completely destroy our relationship to the people we care about and, above all, to our Creator.
2. Do not be filled with greed.It is true that hard work has its rewards, but to be filled with greed for money and for material success leads to many sorrows:
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (I Tim. 6:10 New King James Version)
Because of greed, others are pushed to cheat, bribe, and betray their fellowmen, much worse their loved ones. Some become so fixed on acquiring riches that they have no more time left to worship and serve the true God. In both cases, true happiness cannot be achieved.
3. Don’t go with bad companions. Finding happiness in friends also has its limitations. Apostle Paul admonished:
“Do not be fooled. ‘Bad companions ruin good character’.”
(I Cor. 15:33 GNB)
We should be careful in choosing the people with whom we go or follow. There are companions who would take us to carry out evil deeds with them. God’s advice is that we should “not walk in the way with them” and “keep [our] feet off their path” (Prov. 1:15 NKJV).
4. Do not dishonor marriage. To be a true source of joy, marriage “should be honored by all” (Heb. 13:4 NIV). Thus, we should not make a mockery of God’s sacred union by having the wrong motives (as in the so-called “marriage of convenience”) or false notions about it, like treating marriage as something disposable and infidelity to one’s spouse permissible. God emphatically says:
“‘I hate divorce’, says the Lord God of Israel. ‘I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife’.” (Mal. 2:16 GNB)
5. Don’t let knowledge mislead you.Like everything else, knowledge is also something we should be careful with. There is nothing wrong with being knowledgeable, but one should be careful not to become puffed up with pride (I Cor. 8:1 GNB) and be misled to question God’s power and deny His existence:
“You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me’. Your wisdom and knowledge mislead when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me’.” (Isa. 47:10 NIV)
Such is the mindset of the morning star or anointed cherubim who was cast out from heaven, thrown to earth, and became the devil or Satan (Ezek. 28:14; Isa. 14:12; Rev. 12:9). Hence, anyone who is similarly led astray by earthly knowledge not only misuses the gift but also makes enemies with its Giver. There is no true happiness in that.
Indeed, God made food, work, friends, knowledge, and marriage available for our delight and happiness. But we can draw meaningful joy from these things only if we acknowledge them as God’s gifts and obey His governing rules. If we abuse the pleasures derived from those gifts and go beyond the limitations set forth by God, they will cease to bring us true joy and will become a root of sorrows instead.
Seeking happiness in God
Beyond physical, material, social, emotional, and intellectual satisfaction, what we should all the more seek is the happiness of being with God:
“How precious, O God, is your constant love! We find protection under the shadow of your wings. We feast on the abundant food you provide; you let us drink from the river of your goodness. You are the source of all life, and because of your light we see the light. Continue to love those who know you and to do good to those who are righteous.” (Ps. 36:7–10 GNB)
Those who have the Almighty One on their side can be certain that they will never lack in anything they need. Incomparable, indeed, is the joy of being under His loving care and protection. It transcends all the pleasures anything else can provide.
What must we do to seek the true joy that is in God? The Bible teaches:
“Trust in the Lord and do good; live in the land and be safe. Seek your happiness in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire. Give yourself to the Lord; trust in him, and he will help you; he will make your righteousness shine like the noonday sun.” (Ps. 37:4–6 GNB)
To seek happiness in God is to trust in Him. To prove that we trust in Him, we should do what is good.
That which is good is the laws or commandments of God (Rom. 7:12). One of these is His admonition taught by Christ that we enter or come into the fold or flock (John 10:9 Revised English Bible), which is the Church of Christ that He purchased or redeemed with His blood (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation). To join “Christ’s Church” is essential to become “heirs of God” or be certain of receiving “all the blessings God promises” (Eph. 3:6 Last Days Bible).
The greatest of God’s blessings that He promised to the members of “the true Church of Christ” is the life of rejoicing that they will have in “the New Jerusalem—the heavenly city of God” (Heb. 12:22–23 The Remedy New Testament). Life there in the new heaven and new earth that God created for His people “will be happy and joyful forever” because “there will never again be heard in that city the sounds of ·crying [weeping] and ·sadness [crying]” (Isa. 65:17–19 Expanded Bible).
Let us make it a part of our search for true happiness to join the true Church Of Christ or Iglesia Ni Cristo. By becoming a member of this Church, we will find happiness in God not only in this present life but, most of all, in the everlasting life that is to come
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