Everyone wants to be happy. We long for happiness. Just do a simple search on the internet for inspiring quotes about happiness and you’ll find plenty of pithy attempts at finding happiness. We legislate happiness. Our very Declaration of Independence prescribes “the pursuit of happiness” as one of the chief aims of this more perfect union. We labor for happiness. All men seek. Everything we do, whether eating breakfast or going to the gym, is aimed at ultimately seeking greater happiness.
However, most of us lack happiness. We’re fearful. Anxious. Unfulfilled. Melancholy. Happiness eludes. This is why the Bible, and in particular the book of Psalms, is loved by so many. The Psalms begin with a declaration: “Happy is the man…” (Psalm 1:1). It proceeds to explains two primary paths to happiness: the way of the world and the way of the Word.
The Way of the World
The world promises great happiness. Just watch TV for five minutes and you’ll have countless advertisements promising you more happiness if only you buy their product. Indeed, every program presents a worldview of the good life. Yet, somehow, many if not most are unhappy. Mansions abound with unhappy tenants. Successful titans of industry are miserable in their corner offices. The way of the world is evidently wayward.
God knows this and in Psalm 1 presents the happy man as one who avoids this wide and wayward way: “Happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, not sits in the seat of scoffers” (Psalm 1:1). That is, the happy man is careful where he gets his counsel. He does not flirt with unbiblical counsel or alternative worldviews. Moreover, the happy man is careful where he stands. He knows that habits shape identity and is careful where he lingers. Lastly, the happy man is careful where he sits in agreement. He knows that investigation leads to participation and results in celebration. Therefore, he resolves to avoid the way of the world.
The Way of the Word
Rather, the happy man, according to Psalm 1, pursues the way of the Word: “but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2). That is, he knows that sin is a lie and always fails to deliver. So he fixates his mind and heart on unshakeable truth and trusts that though this way is narrow, it leads to life, joy, and peace. Therefore, he seeks for joy and delight in the Word of God. He reads it daily. He studies it often. He meditates, or ponders, reflects, and applies it, day and night. He lives in the presence of God by living all of life with reference to Him.
Choose This Day
So I implore you: Choose this day which path you will pursue. The way of the world may be wide, but its way is wayward. The way of the Word may be narrow, but its proven. Give yourself to Christ and His Word. Decide today to pick up the Bible. If you need a good place to start, choose the Gospel According to Mark and begin slowly reading. Ask questions. Get answers from your pastor or feel free to reach out to me (KylerSmith@hgbc.org).
Together, let’s walk in the way of the Word. Unspeakable joy awaits.
Dr. Kyler Smith, Senior Associate Pastor
Hickory Grove Baptist Church