Tim Keller

Is God committed to your happiness? Absolutely, and yet if you come to him to make you happy, you’re coming to a false god. If you say, ‘Well, I’m interested in this Christianity, and maybe I’ll come and bite on it if I can see it will help me reach my goals and make me happy.’ You’re not coming to God; you’re coming to a butler. Either God exists or he doesn’t exist. If he doesn’t exist you can’t come to him for happiness, right? But if he does exist, you have to realize you must come to him because he created you, and therefore, he owns you.

To not come to him and obey him would be an injustice. The only way to come to God rightly, the real God, is to come without conditions and to say, ‘Forget happiness. I owe you everything.’ There are only two ways to come to God. You can come to God on the basis of saying, ‘I owe you everything; you owe me nothing,’ or you can come on the basis of saying, ‘I’m going to come to you, but then you owe me a lot.’ The only way for you to know on what basis you have come is to see what happens in the bad seasons.

When things go wrong, do you get upset and say, ‘What good did it do me to come to church? What good did it do me to read the Bible?’ Do you know what that shows? You came to him on the basis of saying, ‘I will do this and this, as you owe me.’ In other words you’re saying, ‘My number one priority is happiness, and I’m using God as a way to get there’ as opposed to saying, ‘My number one priority is to serve God, and if happiness happens, great. To the degree it happens, great.’

Here is the irony: the less you’re concerned about your happiness and the more you’re concerned about him, the happier you get. This is not a trick. You can’t say, ‘Oh, great. I have it. I come to God, and I say this and this and this.’ You cannot bandy with the omnipotent and omniscient Lord of the universe. ‘Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.’ Happiness is a byproduct.

– Tim Keller

*Words found in the sermon, “The Search for Happiness” by Timothy Keller, 1993.