By Jennifer Mann
Growing up, I was a fan of the Snoopy cartoons and as I’ve become more mature, I realise that some of the statements this happy, carefree, little dog made, are quite profound. I came across one the other day and spent some time ruminating on its meaning. The quote reads:
“The less you want, the more you love.”Charles Schulz
What many people don’t know, is that the creator of the Snoopy cartoons, Charles Schulz, was a professed Christian and would use the cartoon strip and work in bible quotes or Christian teachings for its readers. This is more evident in his later years as early on in his career this type of depiction wasn’t allowed.
Though I could draw on any number of examples where bible references were used, there is something very engaging about “The less you want, the more you love” statement; mainly because this flies in the face of modern day society which promotes the accumulation of wealth and possessions as the drivers for being happy. You wouldn’t have to dig very deep however to find this not to be the case. There are a significant number of high profile, wealthy, men and women battling with addictions, depression, and deviant behaviours.
This is the problem with circumstantial happiness, which is only temporary and lasts as long as our situation is just right. Needless to say, this is a very shallow form of happiness. Circumstances can change in a heartbeat and happiness along with it. It’s worth pointing out that even in ideal circumstances, happiness can be missing. We can still have that nagging feeling of not being fulfilled and wonder why we are restless about our children, our future, our finances or relationships.
The bible directs us in 1 John 2:15 -17 to: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Jesus knows that it is impossible to love the world and also love Him. The two are diametrically opposed. It’s human nature that the more we have, the more we want and loving the world means being devoted to a different set of priorities and living by a different philosophy than that of God’s word. In addition, this world is only temporary and Jesus is calling us to experience eternal life and a joy that surpasses the temporary state of happiness.
The most obvious differences between happiness and joy is that happiness tends to be achieved externally, while joy is something achieved internally. For example, we can feel happy about achieving good exam grades, turning the key in the ignition of our new car, or being recognised for a job well done. These things are external or belong to the surface of our lives – the shallowness I mentioned earlier.
Joy, on the other hand, is something much deeper. It is something we feel internally that withstands the fickle nature of circumstance. For example, I may feel discouraged about a situation at work but in worshiping and praising God, I feel great joy because I understand that although my tears may endure for a night, my joy will come in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
“The less you have the more you love” comes from a point of selflessness, the joy of serving and giving to others. Happiness on the other hand is usually about some element of personal gain. When Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,” he is calling us to set aside hedonistic pursuits and live a life emulating Christ, where a love for others supersedes a love of self.
As you go through this week, reflect on all the areas of your life, where you experience happiness and challenge yourself to consider what underpins those things. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 14:17)”
If you are searching for that deep, life changing joy, know that Jesus is waiting to respond. Matthew 7:7 reads:“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
The joy that comes from wanting less and loving more, can truly be found in Jesus.
Dear Jesus, please hear me when I call on your name and show me deep, everlasting joy. Amen.
This Week’s Song of Encouragement
IF THIS POST HELPED YOU, PLEASE SHARE IT USING THE LINKS BELOW SO WE CAN HELP OTHERS TOO.