“I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ ” (Acts 20:35).
HAPPINESS IS SOMETHING MOST OF US WOULD LIKE TO ENJOY AS MUCH OF AS POSSIBLE. Given a choice, most of us would prefer what “happens” to us to be pleasant rather than unpleasant. And in fact, God has graciously blessed most of us with a good deal of happiness — much more than most of us ever give thanks for.
But the Lord laid down the principle that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” And this principle applies to happiness as much as anything else that may be given: more “blessedness” comes from giving it than from getting it. No matter how absurd that sounds to many people, it always proves to be true in experience. It is simply one of the many instances where true, deep wisdom runs counter to the wisdom of self-centeredness.
One helpful way to think of happiness is to see it as a resource, or perhaps as a raw material. It is not given to us for our private enjoyment alone; it’s to be used for the good of others. And like the other resources that have been entrusted to us, happiness is something we’ll one day be held accountable for. When the Lord asks what we have done with our happiness and we say, “Well, we enjoyed it,” He may press the issue. “Is that all you did with it? Did no one else get anything out of My gift to you?”
Unfortunately, we have a tendency to enjoy our blessings without regard to anyone else. We wouldn’t put it so bluntly, but we sometimes appear to believe that, when it comes to happiness, it’s every man for himself: “If I’ve got what I want, that’s all that matters.” But under the “more blessed to give than receive” rule, the independently happy person won’t end up being very happy.
To sum up, then, what should we say about happiness? That the desire for happiness is wrong? No, but if we are happy, the question is what we’re doing with our happiness. Happiness makes a wonderful foundation for a life of service to those around us. But if the foundation exists and nothing is built upon it, people may rightly ask, “What good is the foundation by itself?”
“Many people are extremely happy, but are absolutely worthless to society” (Charles Gow).