Scripture Reading: Romans 15:1-33
“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45
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There is a phrase that inevitably comes up when the flesh feels like it’s needs are not being met. You’ve heard it, and may have even proclaimed it at one point or another – typically out of frustration. That phrase is “Don’t I have the right to be happy?” In counseling, that is what I call a red flag moment. As the doctor can take an otoscope, look into the ear, and see a yellow eardrum bulging – indicating infection, so can the counselor hear that phrase “my rights” and hear the bulging of personal problems.
Truth be told, typically nobody really says to themselves, “I have the right to be served.” People generally have most of their needs met even in less than perfectly healthy relationships. It’s in those times of sever deficiency that these phrases start to arise. What causes them? That could not be answered without knowing more detail. What cannot be missed, however, is that rarely are these phrases heard when both parties are walking with God and serving God first, and one another second. A majority of the time, one of these two elements is missing in one form or another. It is this deficiency that causes an individual to start grasping for their perceived “rights.” If you examine facts, you will find this true a majority of the time in personal relationships, organizations and even entire states (countries).
Getting Away from Self
Commonly we consider the phrase “dead to self, and alive to Christ” used when attempting to overcome personal sin. Rightly this should be emphasized. It is a struggle for the flesh to consider that in this life we have no rights. Colossians 3:3 says, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” To be dead means to be separated from. What are we dead from in this passage? Paul goes on to tells us that we are dead to the things the flesh desires.
Does this mean that we will never be happy? Quite the contrary is true. True happiness however does not come from other people serving you, or from serving your flesh (as the passage above). The happiness that brings true satisfaction is that which is given as a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5 states the fruit of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace…” (v.22). These are the things that bring true happiness.
So then does a person have the right to be happy? My answer to that is “no”, however through the grace of God we can experience that happiness. Further, God has designed the true fruit of the Spirit to bring us happiness. Happiness is not wrought in appeasing the flesh, through fleshly activity. Neither is happiness wrought in demanding others serve. Rather, as we recognize ourselves as dead to the flesh and seek to serve God and others, we will experience that happiness in our lives.
It is well said that if two people are growing closer to Christ alone, they will grow closer to each other. Likewise, if one person steps away from Christ and is concerned only for self, the distance between that person and God will grow great, so will the distance between that person and their spouse; both will suffer.