Why Can’t I Be Happy?

The biggest problem is you.

Now that’s harsh.  Yes. But, it’s true.

How is that possible?  I just want to be good and happy and do the right thing.  How can I be the problem?

Let’s look at it this way: how would you answer the following question?  What would make you happy?  Be honest about this–really honest.  What circumstance of your life would you change?  Relationships? Finances? Career?

I think we’ve already hit on it. The problem is thinking that happiness has to do with me, that is, getting what I want.  I know, I kind of tricked you there, but it wasn’t very difficult.  The idea that we achieve happiness by getting what we want is so prevalent that we fall into it very easily and naturally.  It just really seems to make sense.

Remember Jesus’ fundamental teaching about following Him?  If anyone is going to come after Him, he must deny himself (Matthew 16:24).   Did you get that?  Deny self.  Not indulge, not satisfy, not fulfill, not actualize (whatever that means), not serve; but deny.

It’s not that it is wrong to want something.  Jesus wanted some things.  He even prayed about them.  He wanted the glory He had previously enjoyed with the Father (John 17:5).  He wanted to be able to avoid the cross (Matt.  26:39).  He even prayed about these.  Self-denial does not mean that we want nothing.

Neither does it mean that we deprive ourselves of everything but the absolute, bare-bones essentials.  That’s called “asceticism,” and it’s a flawed approach (Colossians 2:20-23).  Even if we’re a successful ascetic we can still miss the key.

What is that?  Listen to Jesus and see if you can pick up on it:

  • “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve,” (Matthew 20:28).
  • “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)
  • “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:30).
  • “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38).
  • “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

The key is that the focus of our life is serving God and doing His will (not our own) and serving others, not ourselves.  Think of the direction and purpose of your life as a target with a bull’s-eye.  What is that bull’s-eye?  Is it me or is it God?  Is my focus on getting what I want or serving others?

Jesus modeled this approach for us by leaving heaven to live among men and give Himself for the needs of others (Philippians 2:6-8).  So, we are encouraged to have that same mind and “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-5).

Simply put, “Christ did not please himself” (Roman 15:3).  Unless we do the same, we sabotage our own efforts at happiness, joy, and satisfaction in life.  Unless we deny self, we do become our biggest problem.

God bless,




P.S. What are your thoughts or observations?  Just go to the comments below and share.

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