Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me”.
If you think about the next 24 hours, what are you looking forward to most?
I think that this question draws out what truly brings us happiness, and this will determine the quality of our happiness (and therefore whether joy exists in our hearts).
If the most exciting hope of our day is not the presence of God, then we have idols, and as you know, idols can take the shape of anything, or anyone.
Now of course, God can fill our day and our entire lives, so that if I'm watching a sunrise with my wife (a sunset is much more likely!), then God's presence is there with us making the whole sunrise a holy event.
Yet in that event, there may be three important elements – the sunrise, the wife, and God's presence. If it is the sunrise that I love the most, then I've idolised the sun (sad huh?). If it's time with my wife, then it's my wife who has become my idol. If it is God being with me, then I have put him as first.
What makes me happy
Colossians 3 “Set your heart on things above and not below”
The thing about happiness is that what makes you happy will be the same thing that makes you sad. Furthermore, the degree to which things make you happy will be the degree to which they make you sad. So if you are happy about earning lots of money, you will be sad if you earn less. If you are extremely happy you are earning lots of money, you will be extremely sad if you earn less.
With this money illustration, it then follows that the amount of money will then probably correlate with your happiness. I.e. A few thousand more a year, a bit more happiness and vice versa.
The problem with this sort of happiness is that it's temporary, and conditional. It also drives you (if you believe that happiness is the driving force of everyone), to get more of whatever makes you happy. Hence your thoughts will be full of that thing, and your actions will follow, and unfortunately, this could be all for the wrong thing.
If you ask yourself today, what makes you really happy right now? You will find the thing that you have set your heart on.
Similarly, if you ask yourself, what makes you really sad right now? You will find the thing that you did not get that you have set your heart on.
Are these things heavenly or “from below”?
May all that makes us happy or sad be the same things that move the heart of God.