Monday, August 6, 2007

Holiness Before Happiness

Over the past several months, but especially in these past few weeks, God has been dealing very closely with my heart on this subject of "holiness before happiness". It grieves me that the Lord's call to be holy as He is holy is so neglected in the church--- and in my own life---while the quest happiness receives our most devoted attention. May you be blessed, as I was, by the following challenge from another of my spiritual fathers, A.W. Tozer.

"That we are born to be happy is scarcely questioned by anyone. The lovelorn columns of the newspaper are wet with the tears of persons who write to inquire how they can preserve their happiness. The psychiatrists of the land are getting fat off the increasing numbers who seek professional aid in their all-absorbing search for happiness. Almost all popular books and plays assume that personal happiness is the legitimate end of the human struggle. The only question before the house is how to get the most happiness out of life.

Now I submit that the whole hectic scramble after happiness is an evil as certainly as is the scramble after money or fame or success. How far wrong all this is will be discovered easily by the simple act of reading the New Testament through once with meditation. There the emphasis is not upon happiness, but upon holiness. God is more concerned with the state of people's hearts than with the state of their feelings. Undoubtedly the will of God brings final happiness to those who obey, but the most important matter is not how happy we are, but how holy.

For those who take this whole thing seriously I have a suggestion: Go to God and have an understanding. Tell Him that it is your desire to be holy at any cost and then ask Him never to give you more happiness than holiness. When your holiness becomes tarnished, let your joy become dim. And ask Him to make you holy whether you are happy or not. Be assured that in the end you will be as happy as you are holy."

~A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men (1960)

"O God! let Thy voice sound through the depth of our being, with a power from which there is no escape: Be holy, be holy!" (Andrew Murray) Amen and amen.