Church of God, New World Ministries

Why Is Happiness So Elusive?

As a teenager who was taught that to be manly is to be unemotional, I was brought to tears one night in an unusual way. I shall never forget it.

It was a gorgeous summer evening in the American Midwest. I was walking thoughtfully through the warm darkness, hearing the crickets chirp. I was looking at an almost full moon, which illuminated the open spaces between the trees with its gentle light.

Harry’s folks were gone, so I came on around the sliding glass door, which opened out onto the patio. Suddenly, my musings were halted. I realized that the beautiful music I had been hearing so faintly before was coming from the piano just inside the sliding door, which was open.

There, his upturned face partially bathed by the moonlight that filtered through the trees and into the room, sat Harry at the piano bench. He was playing beautifully and most fittingly in that quiet, luminescent scene “Beethoven “Moonlight Sonata.” It was the most memorable rendition of that piece that I had ever heard. For Harry was completely blind.

I watched for a moment and my eyes welled up with tears as Harry’s unseeing eyes stared at the very moon to whose beauty this piece had been dedicated. I was forced to realize that blind Harry the fellow we helped around the school since he learned to read Braille, the boy whose alert and inquiring mind literally hungered for the chance I had to read, to see, to learn was born blind for a reason.

Common knowledge in the town had it that the reason was a mistake one of his parents made before his conception. And so, Harry was born blind. He was paying a penalty because someone else broke a law or, more likely, probably denied that such a law even existed.

But that law existed all right, and still does. It goes like this: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Those who frequently break this law often contract venereal disease. And that may lead to blindness in children, or to some other deformity. Harry knows.

The hundreds of times that Harry was “down” emotionally, the countless hours he brooded and suffered, the times he poured out his heart to me and others, the many, many times he got drunk to “forget” all these bear ample testimony to those who are willing to understand that a law was broken and a terrible penalty was incurred.

Harry knows, he paid much of that penalty along with millions of others.

Not only are the individual sufferings of those like Harry increasing, but intelligent men everywhere know that they are living under the giant shadow of nuclear war. Yes, we have more knowledge than any previous generation. But that merely increases our capacity to kill and destroy one another.

Noted American columnist Sidney J. Harris once summed it up in these words: “The problem is this: that intellectual knowledge is additive, while moral knowledge is not. What this means is that each generation knows more than the last but acts no better.”

With the advent of nuclear warfare, this scandalous lack of moral and spiritual values in modern knowledge assumes frightening proportions. At this point in human history, we cannot afford to keep making the same mistakes over and over. Yet, in spite of having to live with the ever-growing reality of cosmocide, modern education, science and philosophy have come up with virtually nothing to alleviate this dangerous situation.

Is there no way to bring an end to all war? An end to mounting crime, violence, broken homes, teenage pregnancies, babies born blind because of venereal diseases, mounting drug abuse and deep personal frustrations nearly everywhere?

It sounds like quite an order. But the genuine solution to these problems is as absolute as it is practical. Many are busily trying to find solutions to the above problems. They are sincere men and women. Often, they do a certain amount of good, in a very limited way and for a limited time within an overall framework that never changes. They treat a few of the symptoms of war, crime, violence, broken homes. But they are not getting at the real cause of these tragic ills.

There is a cause for every effect. Far beneath the immediate provocations, there is a single, basic cause or underlying reason for mankind’s basic ills. One way of putting it would be to say that it is the way human beings live. The way of greed, of get. But there is an opposite way that would genuinely insure peace and happiness, if it were only applied.

To most people, certainly including many in the field of religion, “law” has a foreboding connotation.

As a society, we tend to have negative feelings about law. It should not be so. For the great Creator, the God of your Bible, revealed a way of life based on law. It is a way that most professing Christians have heard practically nothing about.

Yet it is the way that would solve all the world’s major problems. It is the way of love, of giving.

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, was asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” He answered,” Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:36-40).

Notice! All other laws of God hang on or are outgrowths and magnifications of these two great spiritual principles. There are 10 Commandments in God’s great spiritual law. The first four tell us how to love and honor God, the last six tell us how to love our neighbor.

Man needs these laws today. Mankind is sick from neglect and consequent disobedience to these great principles of love and concern for others.

Again, Jesus was asked: “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”

He answered, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 19:16-19).

Jesus, in answering, named some of the Ten Commandments particularly, in this case, those telling man how to love his neighbor. For the religious leaders of that day had become overly strict with respect to the first four commandments. But they were weak and lax in regard to the last six.

Whenever Jesus spoke of the law of God or “the commandments” He was always referring to that great spiritual law that has existed from the beginning, the Ten Commandments, which were set forth in codified form at Mount Sinai. He came to “magnify” and expound this law to its full spiritual intent and glory (Isa. 42:21).

The living Jesus Christ inspired James to write: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:10-12). There are points to the Ten Commandments. If you break even one, you have broken the whole law.

Notice also that it is called the law of liberty. How can a law bring liberty? Let’s understand.

The last six of the Ten Commandments tell us how to love our neighbor. How could these points of the law bring liberty?

Open your own Bible to Exodus 20:12 and see for yourself: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God gives thee.” Magnifying this commandment, Jesus Christ inspired the apostle Paul to write: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph. 6:1).

“Wow!” some parents might exclaim. “If our children really honored and obeyed us, what a relaxed, peaceful, happy life we could have as a family! Why, we could take them places without fighting and frustration. We could have pleasant family gatherings, and meals at home. The children would help with dishes, housework and chores. And, so very importantly, they would respect us and respond to our wishes concerning the kind of friends they run around with, the places, they go, the things they do even the way they dress, fix their hair and so on. Think of all the hours of worry and frustration we would be spared if our children really honored and obeyed us.”

Parents, does it sound too good to be true?

Don’t kid yourself! Don’t say it is impossible or out of date. To some extent that commandment was obeyed in millions of homes in past generations all over the world. Even today, though they may break many other spiritual principles, millions still follow that principle in the Orient, parts of Western Europe and other areas of the world. Not in all homes. Not perfectly either, of course.

But to the extent that this law is obeyed, parents have rest, confidence and an amount of joy in their home and family, even though their standard of living may be low. Many parents are simply following this principle of God’s revealed law without fully realizing where it came from.

But like the law of gravity, this law works. You can’t reason around it, act like it does not exist or avoid it.

Obviously, if parents everywhere would teach their children to respect these principles, there would truly be a “Parents’ Liberation” movement of unparalleled proportions!

Parents could then concentrate on teaching, training, loving and having delightful family activities with their children. They would quit worrying about teenage delinquency, juvenile dropouts, drug addiction, drunkenness, premarital sex and pregnancy and a veritable host of other youthful maladies. Millions of heartaches and tears would be spared mothers and fathers everywhere.

But what about young people? How would this law work for them? Would they feel oppressed and thwarted? Would their personalities fail to blossom if not given complete and unlimited expression? Absolutely not!

Remember the promise: “that thy days may be long upon the land.” How many millions of young people today are dying before their time either figuratively or literally because they have not been taught to honor their parents?

How many are taking drugs and are damaging or wrecking God’s highest physical creation on earth? How many are serving their lusts whether in illicit sex, gambling, crime or a host of other related activities, which, for the vast majority, lead to unnecessary suffering and premature death?

Within a well-regulated, loving but disciplined family, young people could have the true freedom they yearn for and talk about, but that somehow always eludes their grasp. By honoring and obeying their parents, they need not end up as addicts, penitentiary inmates or young people with broken marriages, broken hearts and broken dreams.

The “law of liberty” alone can guarantee all the blessings mankind yearns for!

In Exodus 20:13, the Creator who gives us life commands, “Thou shalt not kill.” This is the second commandment that shows us how to love our neighbor.

Again, Jesus Christ magnified the law and revealed its spiritual intent. He said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-44).

First, then, the New Testament magnification of this command shows that we are not to kill anybody, any time, for any purpose. God would fight our battles were we to learn to believe in Him, obey Him and trust Him as our shield and protector.

Can you begin to imagine the liberty this suffering world would enjoy if suddenly and unexpectedly everyone started obeying this law and you could count on it?

Consider the fantastic liberty and blessings that would be automatically enjoyed by millions of young men and all peoples in every generation if there were no war. They would not have to interrupt their education and family life to go off and be taught to hate, fight and kill. Hundreds of thousands of them would live, instead of die and be able to have normal families and children. Additional millions would not have to be deformed and crippled for the rest of their natural lives as result of war-related injuries.

Thinking men deeply and fervently realize the whole war syndrome is almost like a civilized form of insanity. Yet all the reasoning, all the philosophies, all the leagues among nations and treaties of men have been unable to stop war. Only when mankind comes to know and deeply fear reverently respect the God of the Bible and His command against war, will this continuing tragedy come to a final end. Liberty?

If the world could merely be liberated from this one tragedy war-- what an outflowing of blessings and what peace of mind there would be!

Remember that Jesus’ statement did not merely tell us to quit killing one another. He said, “Love your enemies do good to them that hate you.” Often, we forget to emphasize this aspect of God’s perfect “Law of liberty.” Instead of merely thinking, “Don’t kill,” let’s begin to think “How can I help my neighbor live?” that is, live a truly full, abundant and meaningful life.

What about your neighbor whose lawn mower won’t work properly? If you have the ability to repair it, why not volunteer your services instead of smiling to yourself as you watch him fussing and fuming in despair?

What about the grumpy waitress who won’t bring your water because she is frustrated and over-worked? Could you be understanding and perhaps try to cheer her up? Do you realize that in our mixed-up society, she may very well be a woman who had been deserted by her husband, is having to support two or three little children and is now half way through her second job during a 16-hour work day in order to keep her fragmented family together?

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In following the positive expression of the 6th command, do you try to give life, love and happiness as you go along? If all of us did, think of the peace, the joys, the deep and lasting friendships and the fantastic liberty of freedom from frustration, fear, loneliness and apathy that we would all enjoy. This is the ultimate liberty of which God speaks!

Are you willing to recognize the Ten Commandments for what they are a fantastic expression of love and concern from the Creator of your mind and human emotions? Are you willing to surrender your life to the true Jesus Christ of the Bible, who magnified these laws so wonderfully? Of course, you will be able to obey the intent and purpose of God’s law only if Jesus Christ, through His Spirit, is living within you (John 15:5).

It will not be many years before a government will be established on this earth based upon these very laws. “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Micah 4:1-2).

Yes, this “law of liberty” will be the foundation for the rule of Jesus Christ in the soon coming New World. Men will learn to serve, to help and to give to one another as God’s law instructs. What a day it will be!

Among other things, men shall not “learn war any more” (Micah 4:3). The Creator will even remove the wild and vicious nature from all creatures at that time (Isa. 11:6-9).

Again notice Isaiah 32:2: “And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest.” This expresses very poetically if we make allowances for the English translation of 1611 the love, the protectiveness and the kindness we can expect from fellow human beings in the New World.

In the coming New World guided by the “law of liberty” when a little girl meets a man on a lonely street or out in the woods, he will be to her as a “hiding place” or a “covert” from the tempest. If she has fallen down or is lost, he will help her and, if need be, bring her home again.

In that day, our wives and daughter’s and we ourselves will have a feeling of safety, security and outgoing warmth toward our fellow man, a feeling that is rare indeed in the society in which we live today.

The leading nation in the world will be a “land of unwalled villages having neither bars nor gates” (Ezk. 38:11). Just think, no more robbery, no more locks, bars, gates, security guards, policemen or defense establishments. Neighbors, as in Isaiah 32, will be willing to help and protect others from accidents. What a different world that will be!

Then, and only then, will the whole world be truly liberated. It will be liberated, not by screaming fanatics or violent protests, but when all nations and all men learn there is a living God and start fashioning their lives according to the law of liberty revealed in His Word.

Meanwhile, you have your chance to do it now and become through Christ in you a ruler in that soon-coming New World.

Read our articles on the Ten Commandments and learn more about how to live the way all the world will soon be living.

 
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