How would Thomas Jefferson have described the Happiness that he had in mind when he penned the Declaration of Independence? I suspect it was quite a bit different from the happiness that many people are desperately seeking today. In fact, I suspect that he was thinking of the kind of happiness that is described in the Beatitudes, even including the following two verses:
“Happy are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matthew 5:10-11).
The AV translation translates the Greek word makarios as either blessed, as in the Beatitudes, or happy, as in “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17), “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” (1 Peter 3:14) and numerous other places. French Bibles use happy (heureux) in all places, including the Beatitudes, as I have done in the verses above.
Is the modern idea of happiness consistent with these verses? Perhaps the belief that happiness is a constant warm, bubbly, fun feeling is part of the reason that so many people struggle with depression.
The apostle Peter wrote: “ For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Peter 3:10-11). Do the modern happiness gurus ever talk about dealing with sin and evil? If they don’t, aren’t they are missing the very foundation of true happiness?
When we repent of our sin and God forgives us, He also gives us the fruit of the Spirit: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,” (Galatians 5:22) and: “the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9). This is genuine happiness, and it is an enduring happiness. We will not always walk in a cloud of joy with our feet never touching the ground, but the real, enduring happiness will still be there.
The pursuit of happiness may at times be fun, but the pursuit of fun never brings happiness.