The other day a driver pulled out in front of me, causing me to drive off the road. Then he began to curse at me in finger language and spew out four-letter words I had never heard before. Boy, was I mad. I wanted to run him off the road to let him see what it feels like. The more I thought about it, the more upset I got. By the time I reached my office, I was one hot puppy. As I was walking up the sidewalk to my office, the Holy Spirit spoke. “You gave it to him all right,” He said. “No, I didn’t,” I thought. “I couldn’t even catch up to him to give it to him!” He responded, “No, you gave him your joy. You are no longer in control.”
I had never thought of it that way. When we get upset about something another person does, we allow him to take control, stealing our happiness and replacing it with anger, discouragement or disappointment.
Most of us think that happiness is a feeling we get as a result of good experiences, and that we have little or no control over our state of well-being. Actually the opposite is true; happiness is, for the most part, something we determine.
We owe it to the people we love to be happy. Ask a friend what it’s like to grow up with a family member who is sour and depressed. I can tell you that the most effective people in the kingdom of God are those who are full of joy.
At times, you may hear the enemy whisper, “It’s cool to pout, wrinkle your eyebrows and whine. People will feel sorry for you and give you your way.” Want to know what God says? “It’s not cool. It’s stupid.” Not only does it make the people around you miserable, it also makes you miserable.
Anybody can be miserable, but to be full of joy, even when things aren’t going our way, now that’s an achievement.
God has given us some powerful principles in His word that will allow us to be happy in this life. I call them the “Three Thou Shalt Nots”:
Thou shalt not be negative!
The mighty men and women of God who have lived a dynamic life of joy and influence were optimists. Paul is an example. When he was unjustly thrown in prison for his faith, he wrote, “I want you to know, dear friends, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including all the soldiers and the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ.” (Phil. 1:12-14, NLT) Paul chose to focus on the good that came of his imprisonment rather than on his suffering.
Thou shalt not allow unmet expectations to steal thy joy
Everybody has an idea about how life should be. The problem comes when an event or circumstance doesn’t turn out exactly the way we expect it to or when we expect it to. I believe in having high expectations. But in thinking big, we have to be aware that our plans may not unfold exactly the way we think they should.
Don’t allow a change in plans to bring about disappointment; just keep hanging on to your faith, with joyful expectation, because your day is coming. Habakkuk 2:3 says: “The vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak. Though it tarries, wait for it, because it will surely come” (NKJV).
Thou shalt not compare thyself to others
Comparing ourselves to others is an easy trap to fall into. It is natural for us to look at the people around us and think they are happier, better looking, more sharply dressed or more well off. We think if only we had their parents, their homes, their clothes or their backgrounds, we could be happy. But Paul said that those who compare themselves to others and measure themselves against their own little ideas are stupid (see 2 Cor. 10:12, TLB). So, don’t limit yourself. God has something bigger and better for you than you think.
Happiness is not an elusive feeling; it’s a matter of living in the truth rather than in what you see. Determine to lay hold of the truth and be happy!
For more information on Eastman Curtis visit his website at: www.eastmancurtis.com
Devotional used with permission of Author