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Ralph Waldo was Useful in this Devotion

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And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

If you’ve read my devotions for the past few years, you know I have a love/hate relationship with the idea of happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I would like to be happy. It’s just I do not believe happiness should be anyone’s primary focus or goal. Thankfully, I found a writer who agrees with me. Because he agrees with me, he must be brilliant!

Darius Foroux, in his article, The Purpose Of Life Is Not Happiness: It’s Usefulness, argues, that what we think will bring happiness will ultimately fail to last. Foroux argues that “usefulness” is the real answer to happiness. Foroux gives examples of ways he sought happiness. “Just a few short years ago, I did everything to chase happiness.” He said,

  • You buy something, and you think that makes you happy.
  • You hook up with people, and think that makes you happy.
  • You get a well-paying job you don’t like, and think that makes you happy.
  • You go on holiday, and you think that makes you happy.

Foroux said all these things left him cold and frustrated, because they didn’t make him feel useful.

I probably would have been happier in life, if I had read more of the classics. If I had, I would have read this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, that answers Foroux’s argument:

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Happiness is found in making a difference is people’s lives.

Once again, God continues to share wisdom that continues to hold true even in our advanced 21st century society. The Bible is many things, but nowhere is it a happiness self-help guide. But, when you read the Bible, there is an underlying theme of usefulness throughout. God knows that meaning, joy, and happiness are found in being useful.

Today, reflect on your feeling of usefulness. Usefulness takes on many forms at different times in life. When you have a newborn, you feel useful every day you get out of bed and change the diaper properly. After retirement, usefulness looks different. Prayerfully call upon the Holy Spirit to guide you in ways to make the best use of your life. When you find usefulness, happiness will not be far behind.