The question of how to achieve happiness and lead a joyful life is crucial to religious and philosophical analysis. The pursuit of happiness has mainly been examined by prominent philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle, Democritus, among others, in need to assert what can make one lead a happy and joyful life. The Bible has extensively analyzed the role of God and faith in attaining true happiness. The paper critically analyzes the Biblical texts on the pursuit of happiness and how they impact to life’s fulfillment. Throughout the history of humankind, people have turned to the Bible – especially the believers and Christians to seek more understanding of their purpose in life and attain happiness. The Bible is a source of solace and comfort to the heartbroken and people with pain. The capacity to seek God is critical to achieving true happiness. The question of true happiness can only be achieved through the insights induced by the Biblical texts. Thus, the pros of the texts carry more weight than the cons when it comes to seeking true happiness.
Biblical Texts on Happiness
Job 5: 17-18 Biblical text states that “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore, do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole.” The text is crucial to illustrate the significance of God in one’s life. The essence of life is only achieved through the presence of God in it. God has the power to break and build; He has the power to hurt and to heal. The Lord has power over – all beings, making happiness highly sort through Him. The capacity of an individual to be corrected by God allows him to walk on a righteous path (Charry, 2007). Hence, happiness is highly prevalent. This is complemented by the book of Matthew 5:5-15, which stipulates that “happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised. (6) Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!” Thus, happiness that comes from God is highly fulfilling and essential. Hence, it is important that, for true happiness, the context of believing in God and seeking His guidance is fundamental.
Matthew 5:4-14 expands the context of happiness in the presence of God as essential in life. No happiness can be genuinely attained without God. St. Matthew notes that in times of sorrow and mourning, God comforts the heartbroken when they seek His guidance. The capacity to maintain the greatest desire to do what God requires to attain satisfaction in life. God fulfills the needs and desires of those who mold their life based on His instructions and guidelines. The optimal of happiness in life is best attained through fulfilling what God requires. Thus, His blessings, peace, and influence in one’s life are abundant.
Proverbs 18: 1-24 analyzes the fact that a fool lacks to care for anything else and believes that he is the smartest. The Lord is the source of all knowledge, and without Him, the fool lies to himself that he is the smartest of all being. The presence of the Lord makes knowledge attain true happiness and essential to one’s life. The lack of God’s presence is bound to make all knowledge, useless, and inefficient. The knowledge sought through God calls for the evaluation of anything before one answers. Ecclesiastes 2: 26 comprises of the insights that the person who pleases God stands a high chance to attain wisdom and happiness. That is, “God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness.” Seeking knowledge from God leads to more fulfillment and understanding of the world. This ends with the realization of happiness that brings joy, contentment, and fulfillment to an individual’s life (Charry, 2011). The presence of God turns knowledge into wisdom, which is more critical and essential to solving diverse issues in life. Thus, Proverbs 19:1-29 asserts the extents to which all conceptualization of the world without God as limiting.
Man has the capacity to make plans, but for them to be fulfilled and attained requires the Lord’s hand to turn them into accomplishment. Proverbs 16:9 notes that “we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 19:21 states that “many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” The sentiments imply that a man is limited to the extent to which he can actualize his plans. The impact and guidance of the Lord are fundamental to make plans come to fruition (Quinn, 2014). As well, plans in the people’s hearts can only attain what the Lord purposes to prevail. Psalm 37:4 highlights that “take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The achievement of the set goals and objectives in life impact on an individual to attain happiness. Accomplishments lead to happiness, that is the essence of making plans. However, without God’s purposing the plans to be achieved – they remain to be mere ideas and incentives for life continuity. Thus, true happiness revolves around God’s influence and determination in what we plan and achieve.
Life choices result in different contexts and paths that may occur. The capacity to make wise decisions that can positively impact one’s life is fundamental to the fulfillment of happiness. James 1:2-3 proclaims that it is necessary to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds in life – because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” In times of hardships, the Bible advises one to persevere without giving up or losing hope (Alcorn, 2019). Despite the difficulties, there is an opportunity leading to happiness. It is of high importance for an individual to follow the path of perseverance to attain happiness amidst the challenges and difficulties that one may endure. Thus, life’s suffering is not the end of everything; instead, it acts as the stepping stone, which sets the foundation of life. Hence, culminate in attaining the optimum level of results leading to happiness.
Craig (2019) notes that “we all hope to be happy and live a ‘good life.’” This is in the context of whatever it actually means and what it means to achieve happiness. The survival and living in the universe present the philosophical analysis of happiness and how it relates to the universe. Aristotle examines the extent to which the ultimate purpose of human existence as the optimal level of the achievement of happiness. Living life with an understanding of one’s purpose is critical to attaining happiness (Craig, 2019). Socrates and Plato present the notion that happiness entails that which is secure enjoyment, good and beautiful. The context of having a relationship with God culminates in the achievement of greater happiness. The assessment of the earthly and heavenly happiness is critical for the achievement of happiness context for humans. Christian and Secular philosophers pursue happiness as the ultimate purpose of life (de Koster & van deWaal, 2017).
Strawn (2012) argues that “the perspectives on the Bible’s larger take on happiness are fundamental to the understanding parts that would otherwise be difficult to comprehend.” Amid extensive suffering and pain, the essence of God and the scriptures in the Bible have often been questioned. In the Book of Job – God’s presence and fortune are attained through suffering. The suffering comprises the absolute test of the faith of an individual as Job suffered, but restoration came at the end. Strawn (2012) asserts that Job died a happy man despite all the pain and suffering he had to endure in his life. The suffering that one endures is not the end that life can induce to a person. Instead, living according to the Bible’s readings and scriptures stipulate the path to which happiness can be attained. This brings the understanding of suffering not as punishment but a milestone for future endeavors.
The Book of Psalms indicates that only those that live a pain-free life are wicked in the heart. The pain is essential to remind one of God and His significance in our lives. This makes the life of faith and with God to be characterized by the presence of pain and suffering (Strawn, 2012). Jesus Himself, a Son of God, died on the cross after having endured a life of suffering. By calling unto Him, a life of happiness is bound to be attained both on earth and in heaven. The understanding of the Bible is essential to the comprehension of life and the extents of happiness. This makes happiness and earthily things essential to the fulfillment of our purpose but not the overall of life. The achievement of happiness is only possible with the understanding of the Bible that outlines God’s teachings to humankind (Craig, 2019).
Van Der Merwe (2015) argues that “temporary happiness is not sustainable and is very fragile when one is detached from God and the moral good.” The Aristotelian philosophy stipulates that happiness and morality exist as two sides of the same coin calling for the achievement of both without the extent to which one neglects the other (Van Der Merwe, 2015). The Bible teachings are a profound source of morality and give direction for repentance. A sinful life cannot achieve true happiness. The real happiness must be coupled with morality conceptualization of the reality and actions taken by an individual. The Old Testament and the New Testament attest to the fact that the ultimate end in life is happiness (Strawn, 2012). The context to which one can attain happiness is based on the power of God and understanding of the Bible to prompt moral actions. The happiness of an individual must be based on morality as it gives peace and fulfillment to an individual.
According to Whelchel (2016), the Bible defines happiness as something self-contained. The achievement of true human flourishing and well-being in life is only possible through the relationship with God. The relationship with God induces fulfillment, peace, and the essence of human life. This makes the relationship with God critical for life both on earth and beyond. The Bible stipulates diverse views that assert God’s power over man and the divine being that fulfills happiness (Van Der Merwe, 2015). The capacity to believe and align one’s life with God is guaranteed both earthily and heavenly happiness. God enables humans to achieve true essence and happiness by making the realization of the man’s purpose in life possible. A life without God is empty and void – that attract confusion and self-contradictions. Thus, no happiness is bound to attained in absolute.
The Bible has been rejected by the humanists on the basis arguing against the notion that the Bible constitutes the word of God. In the assertions of the Humanists, the Bible is a book that was written by “humans in an ignorant, superstitious, and cruel age.” The fact that the Bible lived through an era of un-enlightenment, it is bound to be filled with extensive errors and harmful teachings (Sommer, 2020). For instance, the Bible is characterized by many contradictions that tend to make one state a falsity. This leads to questioning of the reality and factuality of the other statement and its truth basis. For example, Genesis 8:13 “describes the earth to be dry on the first day of the first month while Genesis 8:14 presents that the earth was not dry until the twenty-seventh day of the second month” (Sommer, 2020). The prevalence of contradictions both in the New Testament and the Old Testament questions the reality, factual, and truth of the Bible texts as the word of God.
The Bible, as the source of happiness, fails the test of righteousness and promotion of equal justice when it approves the prevalence of cruelty and injustices. For example, the context in which God can curse an entire creation of the human race as a result of the mistakes and wrongdoing of two people is cruel and unjust (Sommer, 2020). The mistake of Adam and Eve to sin damned the entire human race that promoted the original sin to prevail and affect even an innocent child of two days. This depicts a high level of cruelty and injustice – a Book that is bound to champion of forgiveness, justice, kindness, generosity, among other positive virtues.
Talbott (2013) asserts that God’s love is limited and does not spread to all His creation equally. The Augustinian’s reason that “God’s saving grace is irresistible in the end, and yet everlasting torment in hell will nonetheless be the terrible fate for some.” This makes God subjective in selective those that He loves creating suffering and pain for others. This does not induce happiness for all human kinds and is not the epitome of life. The context in which life should be fulfilling and free will is curtailed by the choices one makes in life. The existence of heaven and hell – shows contradicting worlds in which some people are destined for a life of merry, joy, and happiness, while others are destined to everlasting torment. This stimulates the question of why God created humans in His own image and likeness, gave them free will and yet, on making certain decisions lead one to a life of suffering? This shows a lack of justice and fairness to give individual knowledge and free will to choose, yet curtail the power of choice for if they choose one aspect can result in suffering (Talbott, 2013).
Further analysis questions the essence of suffering and the problem of evil. From a philosophical standpoint, why does evil exist in the first place? The Bible stipulates that suffering and pain are essential to the realization of happiness. This posits the question of the significance of happiness and why one has to languish in pain to seek God. God is the sole source of happiness and the true essence of life. The Bible limits the human being’s capacity to live life fully without extensive restrictions and values. Thus, it leads to suffering instead of happiness.
In conclusion, seeking happiness through God is essential in life. A life with God leads to more satisfaction and fulfillment. A life with God is necessary to find the purpose and essence of an individual. This is fundamental to achieve fulfillment and contentment in finding purpose. The basis of happiness can only be true with God. The context that God drives and gives meaning to the significance of suffering and pain shows why people have to endure so much in life. The need to understand life’s shortcomings and shortages to the knowledge and understanding can be explained through divine power. The Bible’s explanation of knowledge and wisdom as provided by God is fundamental to show that man has limits. This is evident in what man can do and what he cannot do. In turn, happiness can be attained through the understanding of God as the absolute of all being. Thus, the ultimate and true happiness is possible.
The contemporary world shows a profound need for seeking the Bible’s guidance as the foundation to seek and pursue happiness. The Bible texts explain the value given to happiness through the comprehension and acceptance of God. For example, the elimination of the original sin and guarantee of everlasting happiness is through Jesus Christ. The understanding of the Biblical texts is vital in the advancement of science as science without can be used for wrong purposes. Also, the world can languish in the universe without God, as it is bound to be characterized by confusion and contradictions. The arguments against the Biblical texts lack merit and logical value as they recognize the existence of God in the first place. Thus, the Bible explains the existence of God and His influence on the realization of happiness among the human race. God gave man the power to rule and utilize all His creation – Nehemiah 8:10.
Alcorn, R. (2019). Modern Research about Happiness Repeatedly Parallels Biblical Principles. Eternal Perspective Ministries. https://ww w.epm.org/blog/2019/Sep/25/modern-research-happiness-bible
Charry, E. T. (2007). Happy pursuits: A Christian vision of the good life. The Christian Century, 24, 31-33.
Charry, E. T. (2011). God and the art of happiness. Theology Today, 68(3), 238-252.
Craig, H. (November 19, 2019). The Philosophy of Happiness in Life (Aristotle’s View). Positive Psychology. https://positivepsychology.com/philosophy-of-happiness/
de Koster, W., & van de Waal, J. (2017). The Effect of Religiosity on Life Satisfaction in a Secularized Context: Assessing the Relevance of Believing and Belonging. Review of Religious Research, 2017, 1-21.
Quinn, S. (2014). Religion is a sure route to true happiness. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/religion-is-a-sure-route-to-true-happiness/2014/01/23/f6522120-8452-11e3-bbe5-6a2a3141e3a9_story.html
Sommer, J. C. (2012). Some Reasons Why Humanists Reject the Bible. American Humanist Association, and< http://www. humanist. net/religion/thebible.html.
Strawn, B. A. (2012). The Bible and the pursuit of happiness: What the Old and New Testaments teach us about the good life. Oxford University Press.
Talbott, T. (2013). “Heaven and Hell in Christian thought.”
Van der Merwe, I. J. (2015). Biblical happiness and baptismal identity. Stellenbosch Theological Journal, 1(2), 695-710.
Whelchel, H. (August 8, 2016). The Biblical definition of true happiness. Institute for Faith & Economics. https://tifwe.org/biblical-definition-of-happiness/
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