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It’s almost nonsensical to ask if you want to live a happy and successful life.
Of course you do!
No one wakes up one morning and says, “I want to be unhappy and a failure.” The drive for happiness and success is engrained in all of us.
What’s difficult is discovering what it is that will bring us happiness and success.
What I’ve learned in my 40 years of walking with Jesus is that what we’ve learned all our life about happiness and success has nothing to do with what God says about happiness and success.
All our life we’ve heard that to be happy and successful we have to work hard. We have to invest the hours and sweat equity needed to succeed.
And when we’ve succeeded we’ll find happiness.
Can I tell you something?
I’ve worked hard all my life. Very hard at times. I began working when I was 13 years old, doing summer volunteer work. I was put on payroll on my 16th birthday.
I have never been without a job. Even when I was without a traditional job, I was working for myself. Many times I worked 2 or 3 jobs at a time. I would leave one job to go to my next job; and there were times I worked 7 days a week.
I can’t say that I really found success doing this, and I certainly wasn’t happy.
I was just very, very, very, very tired.
How to Live a Happy and Successful Life
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
As Christians, we cannot approach life from the world view that we grew up with.
We have to allow God, through His Word, to renew our thinking so that our world view begins to align with God’s world view.
In Psalm 1, we find the recipe for happiness and a successful life. And it looks nothing like we’ve always been told!
3 Things a Happy and Successful Person Doesn’t Do
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful” Psalm 1:1
The word “blessed” in this verse means “how happy”.
And David, here, uses a set of progressive activities that lead to being overtaken by sin. And it reminds me of a poem I often quote by Alexander Pope, who used a similar progression of activities that lead to being overtaken by sin.
“Vice is a monster of so frightful mienAlexander Pope
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
1. Do not live your life by ungodly counsel
There is likely not a person reading this article right now who has not been indoctrinated by a secular world view steeped in humanism, feminism, and junk science.
Schools all over the world are steeped humanism, feminism, and junk science.
And by the time we graduate from high school, college, or university, our minds are completely shaped by these philosophies of man to the point that we have trouble accepting anything that contradicts what we’ve always known.
But these are “counsels of the ungodly”.
Sadly, many Christians today would rather find answers to their probing questions by watching Dr. Phil, Oprah, Dr. Oz, reading a self-help book, or seeing a psychiatrist than open their Bible.
And then we wonder why we are still unhappy.
Sure, many Christians are successful by the world’s standards. They have great careers that give them a great paycheck; they drive luxury cars and live in a big, beautiful home in safe suburb where their kids attend a great school.
But are they truly happy? Or just driven?
As Christians, we will find true joy in Christ when we reject the counsel of the ungodly and begin filling our heart and mind with the truths of God’s Word, which are eternal and for all generations.
“Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89
2. Do not align yourself with unbelievers
Here we see the progression of allowing worldly philosophies determine our world view to aligning ourselves with them.
It’s a progression from saying, “Yea, what they have to say is good” to “This is my belief system”.
It’s the difference between being a guest in a club and purchasing club membership. Now you’re one of them and by becoming one of them, you’ve signed a pledge that you agree to their belief system.
And sadly today, we see many Christians doing just this.
They have rejected the parts of Scripture that do not make sense to their unrenewed mind, and yet have found so-called Bible teachers who twist Scripture just enough to allow them to live in both the camp of evangelicalism and the camp of the world.
I cannot express enough how grieved I am to see Christian leader after Christian leader signing on to Progressive Evangelicalism, joining this liberal faction that preaches another Christ!
Progressive Evangelicalism twists Scripture enough to allow them to say they’re Christians and yet purchase club membership for numerous anti-biblical beliefs such as: LGBTQ+ rights, critical race theory, intersectionality, and more.
My friends, we cannot play on the edges of the trap of worldly philosophy. When we do, we will eventually find ourselves caught.
3. Do not make world your home
This is the final destination for the person who believes that worldly philosophies will make them happy and successful.
They have moved on from aligning with unbelievers to purchasing a plot and building a home, right there in their camp.
They are settled. This is their residency. They have deconverted.
And my heart weeps as I read story after story after story of Christians, sometimes Christian leaders, who have followed this progression all the way to it’s tragic end.
But thankfully, David didn’t stop there.
He didn’t just tell us what not to do, but he told us what to do.
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2
2 Things a Happy and Successful Person Does Do
Here’s the part that will conflict with our unrenewed mind.
What David gives as the recipe for happiness and success will seem very simple. Almost too simple. And yet, will we find it the hardest thing we will ever do.
1. Delight in God’s Law
The word delight in the Hebrew doesn’t just mean he finds pleasure in God’s law, but that he longs for God’s law.
Is God’s Word your longing? Do you find God’s law as refreshing to you as a tall glass of cold water on a hot day is to your body?
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.” Psalm 42:1
When you’ve had a long week at work, and you look forward to the weekend, what is the one thing you want to do that gives you pleasure?
Do you find pleasure in God’s Word that way?
This longing has to be cultivated. It has to be nourished. It has to be strengthened. And while this may seem simplistic, when we begin taking the steps necessary to cultivate a longing and unquenching desire for God’s Word in this way, we will be met with opposition.
The enemy will not like this. Not at all.
And he will do anything, by every means necessary, to distract and discourage us from ever getting to the place where God’s Word is our longing.
But if we want to be successful by God’s standards, we must persevere!
How do you cultivate a longing for God’s Word?
- Pray for a longing. God hears and answers our prayers, and He will give us what we truly desire.
- Read every day. Even when you don’t feel like it. You develop a longing for God’s Word the same way you develop an appetite for healthy food. You eat it until you like it, and then you keep eating it until it is your favorite food.
2. Meditate on God’s Word
The word meditate here means to mutter, to speak.
This is completely opposite of what eastern or transcendental meditation teaches. Instead of emptying our minds, we fill our minds.
We speak God’s Word to ourselves.
We mull over each word, until every word of God’ sinks down deep into our soul and spirit, taking our unrenewed mind and reshaping it so that our thinking reflects God’s Word, not worldly philosophies.
And he does this day and night.
Start your day with God’s Word, reflect on it throughout the day, and then end your day with God’s Word.
Here are a series of articles I’ve written on how to meditate on God’s Word.
If You Do This, Here’s the Promise
“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:3
If you will purpose in your heart to reject the philosophies that you’ve grown up with, that you’ve always known, and begin cultivating a longing and unquenching desire for God’s Word, this is what is promised to you.
God will make you thrive.
David here uses the illustration of a tree that has an unending supply of nourishment and is healthy.
Longing after God’s Word and meditating on it day and night so that our mind – our entire life – is saturated with it’s principles, will become our source of nourhishment.
It will make us health: body, soul, and spirit.
And then he says, “Whatever he does shall prosper”.
Now, I have to tell you: I don’t believe any word in the Bible is there for effect or coincidentally or accidentally. And this verse says “whatever he does”.
In no way do I believe that David was being hyperbolic when he said “whatever he does”.
Literally this means everything we do will succeed.
“The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Psalm 1:4-6
So now we come to the end of the chapter where these two people are compared one with another.
We have seen how those who choose to reject worldly philosophies and long after God’s Word; making it the very core of who they are successful in literally everything they do.
But what about those who have made their home with the ungodly, and still seem to be successful?
We’re not going to deny the reality that most successful people today are not Christians, nor do they even acknowledge Christ.
In fact, most of them mock Christ.
So, how does this work?
David says that when judgement comes, the final day when we have to give an account before God for our life, that they will not stand.
Literally this means that they will not have a defense, because God has all the evidence.
My dear sister, this is the truth on which our worldview must be built: Everything for the Christian must be determined by eternal value!
When we think of happiness and success, we think of being happy and successful right now. Or in perhaps 5-10 years.
We are so locked in to this physical world, we have trouble disengaging our thinking from what we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch to embrace a world that is invisible and yet eternal!
The very core of our worldview must be God’s Word, which deals with eternal values; not values of this world!
So yes, many successful people are ungodly, unregenerate, unrenewed, and mock God. But they are only successful in this life – which is only a blip of the screen of life.
After this life is over, there is another life – a life in which those who long for God’s Word and make it the core of their life and soul will enter into eternal happiness.
Success in this life for the Christian cannot be measured by position, money, or fame.
It is measured by God’s pleasure.