We all want to be happy, and when we consider the circumstances in which God originally placed mankind—the original couple in a lovely garden with their spouse and creative work to do—it sure seems like God’s intention is for us to be happy too. But Satan interfered and offered something far less satisfying and far more destructive, still calling it happiness.
So there are two kinds of happy. There’s the one that’s related to “blessed” and “rejoicing” and so some modern translations give the Beatitudes of Jesus as “Happy is…” instead of the old form, “Blessed are…” Of this happy, Jesus wants us to partake fully and He tells us how to do it.
But the other “happy,” which is really just selfish pleasure misnamed by Satan. It’s based solely in our short-term pleasure, selfishly “taking” to be gratified—that’s lust, masquerading as happiness. James said that the pursuit of this kind of passion leads us to “desire, to coveting, to fighting, quarreling, hating, wrongly asking” and “not receiving” (Jas. 4:1-4). It’s almost as if he’s looking at some people’s weekend itinerary. But this is not the happiness our founding fathers said we have a self-evident right to seek. It the kind of “pleasures” Moses willingly gave up to be with the people of God (Heb. 11:24-26).
True happiness, the one of Jesus’ Beatitudes (Matt. 5:2-12) and the founder’s pursuit, is a happiness based on virtue, truth and living contentedly in harmony with God. That is the best and happiest life there is.