Philippians 1:18 (NLT)
But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.
Happiness is not determined by what other people do or say, whether you are treated good or ill, whether you are criticized or talked about, whether people are working with you or against you. The motives, intentions, and actions of other people cannot be the deciding factor in whether you have a happy life. If you allow people to determine your happiness or look to them as the source of your happiness, you will be disappointed over and over again.
In Philippians 1:15-17, Paul discusses different kinds of people who were having an impact on him while he was in prison in Rome. Some people were supportive of him and continued to encourage him. At the same time, others were jealous of him, criticized him, and sought to stop him. But Paul says that as long as his main goal to preach the gospel was being reached, he rejoiced despite the obstacles and unpleasant circumstances.
This is how God wants us to be. Few things in life can steal our happiness faster than hurt feelings, than feeling like everybody and everything is against you, than feeling like you’re being kicked when you’re already down, then feeling like you’re being criticized and talked about, judged and devalued at every turn. It’s human nature to want to feel loved and to belong and to be liked. But when that isn’t the outcome, what do we do?
We can follow the Apostle Paul’s example and rejoice. We can choose our own kind of happiness. It doesn’t matter what other people do or say or how they do it or say it, whether it is right or wrong, with good intentions or bad ones, we can choose to be happy. Too many people spend all their lives waiting for someone or something to come along and make them happy. If you’re waiting for that spark or magic to cross your path, you’re going to waiting for the rest of your life.
God has given us life because it is a privilege to live it. Yes, the beautiful and the mundane, the grim and the glorious, the valleys and the mountains, the strength and the struggle, the starts and the stops, the seemingly perfect and the inevitable imperfections — all of it is a privilege. You can’t live for the approval of other people. When you are doing the right thing, you will be at peace, your soul will be at rest, and you will be happy.
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
— Helen Keller