The Pursuit of Happiness

A young preacher’s wife told him that she was leaving him and returning to her former life without Christ. The reason: She wanted to be happy and she just wasn’t having any fun. As I sat and listened to this sad report, the Biblical account of Felix (Acts 23:24-26) came to mind.

Felix’s name means ‘happy’ or ‘prosperous’. He was a governor of Roman-occupied Judea who had earned his Roman citizenship. He is described by the historian Tacitus as cruel, licentious, and base. 

The Jews had seized the Apostle Paul in the temple in Jerusalem and were plotting to kill him, but Paul was rescued by Roman solders who learned that he was a free-born Roman citizen. Paul was sent to Caesarea to appear before Felix. At his hearing, Paul presented the gospel in such a powerful way that Felix’s conscience was pricked: “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and the judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, ‘Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for you’” (Acts 24:25).

Felix didn’t resent Paul’s plain speaking, but he postponed a decision. He wanted to wait “for a more convenient season”. His self-indulgent quest for temporal happiness held him back. A convenient season did not come. Felix is a ‘type’ of many whose consciences are stirred toward righteousness, but whose hopes of eternal life are lost in the pursuit of pleasure and by delays in yielding to God’s plans for their lives.

The two worst enemies of the soul are “Yesterday and Tomorrow”:

  • Yesterday slays its thousands. Past sins plunge many into darkness and confusion. Priceless opportunities are trampled upon. The conscience becomes seared, and the longing for the Lord’s presence diminishes. The old way of life beacons them back. The result is captured in scripture: “The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20).
  • Tomorrow slays its tens of thousands. Vows, promises, intensions go unfulfilled. Additional opportunities to follow Christ fully seem never to come. People, like the young preacher’s wife, fail to realize that NOW is the acceptable time to embrace God’s will. As with Felix, the ‘convenient time’ never dawns. And like Felix, they join the ranks of the lost. The pleasures of sin may last for a season (Hebrews 11:25), but missing God’s will results in eternal separation from all that is good. To pursue ‘happiness’ at the expense of following God’s will is disastrous.

The Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians still ring true: “As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you’.  I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NIV).

It is wise to heed the words of scripture: “O taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who trusts in Him!  O fear the Lord, all you who belong to Him. For those who fear Him never want for anything” (Psalm 34:8-9, NLT).

Happy is the one who trusts in the Lord! 

~ Brother Roy

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