Happiness Is in the Closet

You want to be successful. Being successful will make you happy. Being successful is to reach the top of the ladder, or is it the climb to the top that makes us happy? sbcglobal

Looking for happiness? You’ll find it in the strangest places; or so it seems. Here’s the principle we’re talking about today: “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” So, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But, when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matt. 6:1, 5-6).

When we receive our reward from other people it’s wonderful for the moment, but it is all the reward we have, be it applause, a trophy, money, or whatever, and shortly after receiving such rewards we feel hollow. When our heavenly Father rewards us, however, it lasts forever – that’s the point.

In a similar teaching Jesus says that our left hand shouldn’t know what our right hand is doing. In other words, when you do something nice for someone, don’t announce it with trumpets in order for other people to see what you’ve done. You’ll have an immediate reward from people, but your everlasting reward disappears. We live in a society that rewards athletes, movie stars, talk show hosts, doctors and lawyers, as though they were all superheroes, but in the end their rewards are all left behind – they aren’t “storing up treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:20).

The wonderful thing about doing the right thing for the right reason, (not because we might receive a reward, but because it’s the right thing to do), is that it truly brings us happiness. This is the same principle that’s at work when we pray. If we pray with the right motive, not simply asking for something to spend on our own pleasures, but praying that God’s will would be done in our lives, we have both an immediate and lasting reward – a happiness that can’t be taken away or lost. Its part of a huge paradox that we have trouble wrapping our hearts and minds around: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39). This can be mind-boggling in a society that teaches us to “grab all the gusto” we can grasp. The tighter we grab all that gusto, however, the more we realize that happiness has eluded us once again.