Most of your life you are encouraged to set goals and follow your dreams, to pursue happiness. If there’s one thing that can be said about happiness, it would be that it’s subjective. What makes one person happy like admiring a beautiful sunset on a warm summer night, may make another person arguably unhappy. Sadly, for many people the pursuit of happiness means material gain in the forms of status, money, property and personal possessions, things like new cars, large houses and extensive portfolios make most happy to varying degrees. To others it is as simple as having good health, close family, and friends or to a few multi-racial or gay couples it is wining lawsuits in court, to be equally included in society and not ostracized, or having the right to marry whom they love.
The second section of text in the United States Declaration of Independence drafted in part by Thomas Jefferson, contains the phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”, truths that are believed endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among them “the pursuit of Happiness” Jefferson thought it was up to the individual to determine what makes him or her happy. However, in the Jefferson era happiness has always been widely considered the natural state of humanity, it was believed to be what God intended for all mankind and therefore deserved protection.
In 2006 an American biographical drama film titled The Pursuit of Happyness was released, it is a rags to riches story based on the life of Chris Gardener. Gardner credits his tenacity and success in life to what he calls the “spiritual genetics” handed down to him by his mother. Our impulse to pursue true uncompromised happiness originates with God. We pursue genuine happiness because, and only because, God has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. In Him is the only true and lasting happiness, our pursuit is, and always has been of God. Jesus explains in John 6:65 that no man can come unless the Father draws him. In the natural mankind has no desire or ability of our own to come to God. Because the heart of man is hard and the mind is darkened, the unreformed person does not, will not, on their own ever desire God and is actually an enemy of God Romans 5:10.
Therefore, it is dangerous to follow or pursue the desires of your heart prior to accepting God’s gift of grace which is Jesus. Jesus tells us in Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander”. And then: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’” Mark 7:20-23. Our evil hearts lead us to sin. Furthermore, the heart is so corrupt and deceitful that our motives are unclear even to ourselves. As sinful beings we devise and create evil things in the arrogance and self-sufficiency of our hearts Proverbs 16:30.
Only God can examine our deepest motives and inward desires and only by His power can we ever hope to untangle the uncertainty and depravity that is bound up within our hearts. God literally plants His own desires into the heart of man, the heart that, without Him, is desperately wicked and deceitful. He replaces the evil with good and sets our hearts on the path toward Him, removing our own desires and replacing them with His. He accomplishes this by supernaturally implanting His Spirit into our hearts. Then our desires become His desires, our wills seek to do His will, and our rebellion turns to joyous obedience. However, this only happens when we come to Him in response to his drawing us, with repentance receiving His mercy, and accepting the gift of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then will He “…give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4-6.
God must draw and it is by this prevenient drawing that God takes from us every remnant of credit for our act of coming. The impulse to pursue a life of happiness, originates with God, because true happiness can only be sustained in God, but the outworking of that urge is our uncompromising pursuit after Him; yet all the time we are following Him we are already in His hand. God is always preceding, still we must pursue Him and in doing so there is no contradiction.