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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 40 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 10: The Bible and Happiness *
Introduction: Happiness is a complex topic. So much of the Christian
life sounds like the opposite of happiness. We talk about self-denial
and self-sacrifice. We speak about taking up "our cross." Yet, as I
look around at my fellow Christians(and look at myself), we don't seem
all that unselfish. I see people who have better "things" than I do
and I think "I would like to have things like that." Is "stuff" the
key to happiness? Is renouncing "things" the path to joy? Are
Christians missing out on happiness because they have so many things?
Let's dive into the Bible and discover God's goals for us!
- God's Goal and Money
- What is God's goal for us? Is it to be poor? We point to
Jesus as our example, and He was "homeless" (see Matthew
- No Christian I know chooses to be homeless. Are we
just ignoring His example?
- Read John 10:9-10. When Jesus says that He wants His
followers to "have life ... to the full" is He talking about
an abstract eternal life, or life here and now? (Whatever
Jesus is referring to, according to Strong's the Greek word
translated "full" (perissos) means "superabundantly,"
"excessively." Note that Jesus begins these texts by
speaking of eternal life.)
- Read Proverbs 15:6. Does this text refer to money and
"stuff" in our life here and now? (Yes.)
- Is another concept also floating around in this verse?
(Yes. Both the righteous and the wicked have money in
this verse, but for the wicked money causes trouble.)
- Read Proverbs 10:22. What does this say about wealth
and trouble? (It suggests that money by itself brings
trouble. When God blesses us with money, He leaves
the trouble behind.)
- Read Proverbs 11:28. What does this say about money and
righteousness? (One of the problems with money is trusting
it for our future. The righteous person, who trusts in God
and not money, has a "green leaf" future!)
- Read 1 Samuel 2:7. Is money referred to in a positive or
negative way? (Poverty seems to humble us and wealth exalts
- Who is behind this humility and exultation? (God.)
- Which makes you more happy - to be humbled or exalted?
- Read Isaiah 5:8. What does this suggest about being wealthy?
(That you are alone!)
- Read Mark 4:18-19. What does this say about wealth and God's
word? (That the "deceitfulness" of wealth "chokes" the
- Let's stop and ponder what we have read. We have looked at
texts from both the Old and New Testaments. Normally, we
tend to equate a "superabundant" life, and "excessive" life
with money. But, what overall lesson do these texts teach us
about money and having a good and righteous life? (Money is
a tricky thing. It can bring problems - indeed it often
does. Only a combination of righteousness and wealth make
- What would you say is God's goal for us when it comes
to money? Will God give us money so that we will be
- If we say that God will bless us with money, should we
be righteous as a means to become wealthy? (Read 1
Timothy 6:5. We will later explore the context of this
text, but this clearly says that only a "corrupt mind"
"robbed of the truth" thinks "godliness is a means to
- We have looked at what the Bible says about the abundant
life and money. Do things lead to happiness? Let's explore
- The Happy Life
- Read 1 Timothy 6:3-5. What words do you see in this text
that are not what come to mind when you think of being
- What seems to be the source of this unhappiness?
(Conceited people who do not have God's truth.)
- Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10. How can we avoid grief? (Godliness
- If we link the idea of happiness with wealth, what is
the problem with wanting to become rich? (The Bible is
plain that a desire for money is a dangerous path that
can easily plunge us into ruin and destruction.)
- Money does not seem to be the path to happiness. Let's look
at some texts that suggest a positive route to happiness.
Read Psalms 133:1. What is one source of happiness among
those who follow God? (Unity.)
- Read Romans 15:13-14. What role does the Holy Spirit play in
our happiness? (The Holy Spirit fills us with hope - and
hope gives us joy and peace.)
- What are we hoping for? (The entire chapter speaks of
hope. But, this specific text says that we are
trusting in God. The logical conclusion is that if
things are not well, we are hoping that things will
get better in our life. If things are going well, we
trust in God for the future. The Holy Spirit gives us
the power to have that kind of hope. And hope fills us
with joy and peace.)
- Read Galatians 5:22-25. How many of the words found in this
text would you connect with happiness?
- What is the source of this happiness? (Having the Holy
Spirit in our life.)
- Read Philippians 4:4-7. If someone tells you to "rejoice,"
or "be happy," does that do it? What is at the bottom of the
statement "rejoice in the Lord always?" (Trusting God. We
present our prayers and petitions to Him, and if we trust
Him, peace will enter our hearts.)
- Is this peace logical? (No! The text says it
"transcends all understanding." God can do the
impossible. We just need to trust in Him.)
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Again, we have a text that tells us
to "be joyful." What does this text suggest is the way to
joy? (Be grateful to God. Be in contact with God through
prayer. If you are constantly thanking God for His blessings
to you, it lifts your spirit.)
- Read Luke 12:15. Think of all of the texts that we have read
and studied in this lesson. What assumptions did we start
with about happiness? (That happiness had to do with wealth
- What have we learned is the true source of happiness
and joy? (A relationship with God. Life does not
consist of what we own. A Spirit-filled life is the
path to joy!)
- Friend, do you want happiness and joy in your life? The path
to happiness is not wealth, but rather a relationship with
God. Will you invite the Holy Spirit into your life right
now to begin to walk the path to peace, trust and joy?
- Next week: Daily Wisdom.
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.