Where does discontent and depression come from? Is it possible we understand that God wants us to do something and yet have not acted on what He has said?
Happiness comes from doing what we know God wants us to do. We will be more than happy when we act on His desire and purpose for our lives. Peace comes from knowing in our heart what God wants us to do, understanding that in our mind, saying it with our lips and then doing it.
God’s goal for us is to act on what we know he wants us to do today. God wants us to be happy. Jesus wants us to learn how to serve others.
Jesus lets us learn how to serve by His great example to us in washing the disciples feet. We must follow His example.
If you know [= understand] these things, you’re fortunate if you do them.
The sequence is important: humbleness, holiness, then happiness. Aristotle defined happiness as “good fortune joined to virtue … a life that is both agreeable and secure.” That might do for a philosopher, but it will never do for a disciple of Jesus! Happiness is the by-product of a life that is lived in the will of God. When we humbly serve others, walk in God’s paths of holiness, and do what He tells us, then we will enjoy happiness.
Jesus asked the disciples if they understood what He had done, and it is not likely that they did. So, He explained it: He had given them a lesson in humble service, an example for them to follow. The world thinks that happiness is the result of others serving us, but real joy comes when we serve others in the name of the Messiah Jesus. The world is constantly pursuing happiness, but that is like chasing a shadow: it is always just beyond your reach.
Jesus was their Master, so He had every right to command their service. Instead, He served them! He gave them an example of true Christian ministry.
- On more than one occasion during the previous three years, He had taught them lessons about humility and service; but now He had demonstrated the lesson to them.
- Perhaps the disciples remembered His lesson about the child, or the rebuke He gave James and John when they asked for thrones.
- Now it was all starting to fall into place.
The servant (slave) is not greater than his master; so, if the master becomes a slave, where does that put the slave? On the same level as the master! By becoming a servant, our Master Jesus did not push us down: He lifted us up! He dignified sacrifice and service. You must keep in mind that the Romans had no use for humility, and the Greeks despised manual labor. Jesus combined these two when He washed the disciples’ feet.
The world asks, “How many people work for you?” but the Master asks, “For how many people do you work?”
It is not enough just to know this truth; we must put it into practice. James 1:22–27 makes it clear that the blessing comes in the doing of the Word, not the hearing. Wuest translates the last phrase in James 1:25, “This man shall be prospered spiritually in his doing.” Even studying this section in John’s Gospel can stir us emotionally or enlighten us intellectually; but it cannot bless us spiritually until we do what Jesus told us to do. This is the only way to lasting happiness.
Be sure to keep these lessons in their proper sequence: humbleness, holiness, happiness. Submit to the Father, keep your life clean, and serve others. This is God’s formula for true spiritual joy.
 Gundry, R. H. (2010). Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation (p. 426). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 346–347). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Gary Fultz said:
Most of God’s principles are backward to the natural mind. give to get, the greatest is the least. serve to be happy. We don’t understand till we obey and experience these. worship comes before asking. Humble ourselves and pray to save our land…good stuff Wilson
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Michael Wilson said:
Thanks brother Gary!
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Frank Hubeny said:
Excellent advice: “Peace comes from knowing in our heart what God wants us to do, understanding that in our mind, saying it with our lips and then doing it.”
Also, I didn’t realize there was a sequence, but what you said makes sense: “The sequence is important: humbleness, holiness, then happiness.”
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