“Happiness is to know the Savior” The Rev. Leonard Oakes

“Happiness is to know the Savior”
1 Timothy 6:6-19

Happiness is seeing you all today as we come together to thank God for the enumerable blessings we received.
The great Dalai Lama said, “Happiness is to have peace of mind and to find true friendship” The great Aristotle said, “Happiness depends on the cultivation of virtue”
This nation was founded in the proposition to pursue our happiness.
“Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” (Rabbi Schachtel) This statement is deep but filled with truth because we may have everything already but we are still not happy. We are only good in gathering what we want but forget to use them for good reasons. In other words we hoard our wealth thinking we can take them with us to the grave.

Many people in the industrialized nations, have never in history had more things. And we have the spare time to ponder and pursue happiness. Yet so many get the relationship all wrong. They still think that happiness or fulfillment can come from the accumulation of things. So we amass the wealth of the world in the expense of the poor and those without voices.

In the reading of the first letter of Paul to Timothy, Paul warns the young Timothy about this spiritual pitfall and outlines the proper relationship between fulfillment and possessions. Basically he says that it is the love of things that leads to trouble. So instead of seeking riches they and we should seek the virtues of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.

In his letter, Paul did not suggest that money is evil. He says the love of money leads to evil. And Paul also advises those who are rich not to trust in their riches. But rather put their trust in God who richly provides. In fact Paul said,”we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it.” I am sure you have all heard that you can’t take it with you. And there is a good reason for that. But most people don’t see the reason. There are those who still hoard their wealth under their beds or pillows only to lose them when they died suddenly or when fire strikes their homes.

The story goes that there was a rich man who was faithful. And he didn’t really understand why he couldn’t take it with him. So he prayed and he said, “Lord, you have blessed me with so much. Why can’t I take just some of it to heaven with me since it was a gift from you.” God replied, “Just to teach you a lesson I will let you take one suitcase of your earthly possessions to heaven.” The man thought and then he packed one suitcase and left it in a special place so that he could grab it after he died and take to heaven. He got to heaven with his suitcase and St. Peter looked in the book and said, “Here’s your name you can go in but you can’t take that with you haven’t you ever heard you can’t take it with you?” So the man explained and St Peter nodded and said “OK. But can I ask a favor? Can I just see what you brought.” The man opened the suitcase and it was full of solid gold bricks. Peter laughed and said, “So why did you bring pavement?”

God has given us all possibilities in this world, even eternal life. What more can we ask?

True happiness is found in acknowledging that God has already given us all we need. But Paul goes on to warn that the love of earthly wealth leads to trouble. It is not wealth itself that is evil. It is the love of it that leads to evil. Out of love for wealth people do things that lead to evil.
You see, what God has created good, most people have it all backward. They love things and use people. The things on this earth were put here by God for us to use not to love. And the people were put here for us to love not to use. So we should love people and use things.

To use people and love things is an alteration of God’s plan. It puts things backwards. We were not made for that. We were made to love God and our neighbor. To do otherwise will lead to destruction and pain.

Paul tells us to seek after the virtues which go along with serving God. We should strive for “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.” We should value faith and take hold of eternal life. In the end that is what endures.

You can’t take money and gold to heaven. But at the same time it is not those things that bring meaning to this life. Knowing who you are and finding peace: those kinds of things bring happiness. Loving your neighbor and serving God bring you Joy whether you have money in the bank or not. Our feeding the shelter program started with sharing our few resources in our love to serve those who are without on things we enjoy such a food and happiness.Such program grew because we shared them to those who have the means to share their resources to us such as St. Mary the Virgin of San Francisco. They have the money, we have the people to serve. Our common denominator is Love. Our health wellness gained recognition from the Diocese when we shared our resources of Medical professional volunteers who are happy to serve the low income and uninsured members of the community.

Our fellowship time together brought us all to Develop deep relationships with each other, our family and friends in the spirit of happiness.

Jesus may have all the wealth he needed. He was rich beyond earthly standard but he gave up the glories of heaven. He found completion and fulfillment in following his Heavenly Father’s will and giving of himself to save us.

It all comes down to one question: What are we living for? Why do you get up in the morning? Why do we go to work or school or wherever it is that we go? Do you go to school so that you make more money when you get out? Do you work each day so that you can make more money?
Or do you get out of bed and do those other things so that you can love God and your neighbor. Do you go about your daily activities with the idea that you are seeking to live righteously. Do you value the people you meet and not the things you acquire.

Paul said, “There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment.” You may not get rich serving the Lord. Then again you might! In the end it doesn’t really matter. But through a godliness of life that is content with what God has provided there is great gain. Through faith we can know the gift not only of life after death but of peace and joy in this world.

On Sunday school, I learned this song, “Happiness is the Lord” let me sing it for you:

Happiness is to know the Savior
Living a life within His favor,
Having a change in my behavior
Happiness is the Lord
Real joy is mine
No matter if teardrops start,
I’ve found the secret —
It’s Jesus in my heart!

Happiness is to be forgiven
Living the life that worth the living
Taking a trip that leads to heaven
Happiness is the Lord, Happiness is the Lord.

Happiness is all around us, if we only look.
May the Love of God lead us all to happiness. Amen.