Sunday, December 17, 2017

Do Not Seek Happiness. Seek God.

"If you seek righteousness more than happiness you'll get both. If you seek happiness more than righteousness you'll get neither . . . 
The person who is happy is always the one who has stopped trying to be happy . . .
The less you're concerned about happiness, and the more you're concerned about God, the happier you get . . . 
Aim at heaven you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth you get neither . . .
Happiness is brought about not by controlling your environment but by controlling your allegiances."  - Tim Keller commenting on Psalm 1 concerning the search for happiness.

Keller makes the biblical point that happiness is always a byproduct of a pursuit of something else, something fundamental to the character of our Creator. This is why the Bible repeatedly promises blessing to those who strive for purity, holiness, contentment, etc; to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, not happiness. "Happiness is always and only a byproduct of seeking something else more than happiness." The Bible nowhere says that blessed is the one who seeks blessedness.


  1. Related, from C. S. Lewis: "It seemed to me self-evident that one essential property of love, hate, fear, hope, or desire was attention to their object. To cease thinking about or attending to the woman is, so far, to cease loving; to cease thinking about or attending to the dreaded thing is, so far, to cease being afraid. But to attend to your own love or fear is to cease attending to the loved or dreaded object. In other words the enjoyment and the contemplation of our inner activities are incompatible. You cannot hope and also think about hoping at the same moment; for in hope we look to hope's object and we interrupt this by (so to speak) turning round to look at the hope itself. Of course the two activities can and do alternate with great rapidity; but they are distinct and incompatible." (Surprised by Joy, Chapter 14)

  2. Keller is a Lewis fan. I'm guessing he's also been helped by Surprised by Joy. Thanks for the quote.

  3. The most interesting to me is the last quote of Keller about controlling our allegiances. Also, in light of the subject matter, namely happiness, I wonder what Piper would say about our not seeking it. He's a Christian hedonist, and a big Lewis fan, and a theologian. I don't believe there is necessarily disagreement between him and Keller. But I would like to hear them discuss the matter, because Piper does say to seek happiness (in God).