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'Winging It

    by Stan Smith

Happy or Holy?
Date Posted: March 15, 2023

What's more important? Is it more important to be happy or to be holy?

Take, for instance, marriage. I'd be willing to bet (if I were a betting man) that you didn't choose your spouse based on his or her ability to lead you to holiness, did you? I'm relatively certain that you chose a spouse who you believed would make you happy. If you were really a good person, you also believed you could make your spouse happy. (Consider, for a moment, the utter irrationality of the proposition. No one has the capacity to make someone else feel ... anything. Just a thought.) It wasn't holiness you had in mind; it was happiness.

You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy (Leviticus 19:2).

How about work? How many of us pick a job, a career, a place we spend at least a third of our lives with holiness in mind? We may have a few things going on there, but none of them are likely holiness. Fulfillment, perhaps. Satisfaction. Maybe, if nothing else, enough money to be happy. But not holiness.

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4).

Then there are other relationships. We don't choose our family, but we do choose who we will spend our time with. We choose our friends. We choose who we hang around. How many of those choices are driven by a need to be holy?

... Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27).

We could keep this up all day. There is stuff. Stuff we buy. Stuff we want. Stuff we accumulate. Stuff we love. Stuff we lose. Stuff we enjoy. Stuff we weep over. How much of our stuff relates to our holiness? Or is it just for the purpose of happiness? There is suffering. Everyone knows suffering is bad. Or is it? I ask because the Bible seems to disagree. James says it leads to perfection (James 1:2-4). Peter considered it a privilege to suffer (1 Peter 3:14). Not us. We're looking for comfort, for ease, for happiness. Comfort is a big one for us. That's our aim. "Be ye comfortable as your Father in heaven is comfortable." That's our motto. Or maybe some of us are wiser. We seek wholeness. Or peace1. God? He seems to have a different aim in mind for us.

Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).

As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16).

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

Hey, I think I'm seeing a pattern here! How about you?
1 I'm not referring here to the peace that God provides. I'm talking about the peace that Bill Cosby referenced when he told the story about whining children. "Parents," he concludes, "are not interested in justice. They're interested in peace." That peace -- the cessation of conflict. God's peace is the cessation of conflict with God.

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Biography Information:
Born and raised in a Christian home, I've been treated to immersion in the Word and squandered it. 'But God ...' I love the phrase. God has been faithful when I was unfaithful. At every turn He has crowded me to Him.

I'm married with four grown children and (currently) four grandchildren. My wife and I live in sunny Phoenix by choice. I hope to encourage people with my words and to share with others what God has shared with me.

For more writings you can see my blog at