While everyone craves happiness, and everyone benefits from it, the sad reality is that fewer people today are finding it. We have more possessions than ever before, better access to education, and greater advancements in technology and medicine. Yet the majority of us can't find an adequate reason to check the "yes" box on a happiness questionnaire. Max Lucado looks at several "one another" statements in the Bible that reveal how the happiest people on earth aren't those who have the most but those who are willing to give the most away. While we cannot solve every problem, we can bring a few smiles to a few faces. In this way, we might even initiate a quiet revolution of joy.
It's hard to know the best way to respond to people who represent your "opposite you." How do you find and show acceptance toward someone when you would rather show them the door? The answer is found in the admonition, "Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God" (Romans 15:7). Learn to accept others who are different from you, practice empathy, and accept yourself.
Every pet peeve writes a check on our joy account. "He gets under my skin." "She gets on my nerves." "He is such a pain in the neck." How can we help people smile if our happiness account is overdrawn. We can't. For this reason, Paul said, "Be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2). Learn to have the true patience of one who walks by the Spirit and has the fruit of the Spirit. Stop judging others; instead, focus on building them up and encouraging them.
In a world where the conversation is all about self-care, the overriding message is if you're feeling unhappy, you should focus more on your own happiness. But it is actually in our best interests to look out for the interests of others. Happiness happens not when we seek to bring joy to ourselves, but as we embody this simple principle: "Do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13). This session looks at Jesus, who he served, and how he served.
We often withhold forgiveness for fear of letting the wrongdoer off the hook. We are a society of right and wrong, checks and balances, justice and punishment. But when we fully grasp God's mercy toward us, forgiveness, while still difficult, at least becomes possible. And so does happiness. "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32). When you understand the forgiveness of Christ, you can forgive yourself and forgive others, and stop carrying the burden of anger that keeps you from experiencing happiness.
Burdens come in all shapes and sizes. Often, they come as a result of an illness, or a crisis, or a broken relationship. Each of us has spiraled downward, and each of us knows someone who has done the same. It is for this reason Paul urges, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). Learn to prioritize community. Stop holding back from engaging with others. And experience the power of prayer as the best way you can support others.
Each of the "one another" passages we have studied so far could fall under the umbrella of the ultimate "one another": "Love one another" (1 John 3:11). Learn how to show agape love, the kind of love that "writes the check when the balance is low...forgives the mistake when the offense is high...offers patience when stress is abundant...extends kindness when kindness is rare." Then, explore perhaps the most difficult aspect of God's love - accepting it for yourself.