Commentary

Happiness

By Rev. Julian Duckworth and New Christian Bible Study Staff

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A girl holds a piece of watermelon with a nice bite take out of the edge of it.

Does God want us to be happy? What does the Bible say about happiness?

“Happiness” may seem like a passing thing, and hardly the ultimate goal in most belief systems. In fact, though, it is the Lord’s greatest goal for us: He wants us to be happy. If we allow it, He will lead and guide us to be as happy as we are able to be.

The whole reason the Lord created us was so that he could love us, and what else but happiness do you wish for someone you love? But the happiness the Lord wants for us is not the passing joy of satisfying our bodily desires but the exquisite eternal joy of conjunction with the Lord and true love of the neighbor, things harder to see and harder to attain but ultimately far more delightful.

Swedenborg distinguishes heaven’s happiness from worldly happiness of satisfying our bodily desires. In heaven, all happiness is felt from loving the Lord and being of use, living for the sake of others. Everything the Lord does is part of his attempt to lead us to that state, and in everything that happens to us - even the things that are the most tragic on the natural level - he provides opportunities for us to move toward that state.

The Lord also, however, leaves us in freedom. We can reject his efforts and turn away if we choose to, and while that choice may seem to us to lead toward happiness, it is a passing, natural happiness that is ultimately only a shadow of the joy he desires for us. However, those in hell are "happy" being there because the life there matches their self-centered love they chose to cultivate while on earth. If those in hell could be lifted up to heaven, they would feel tormented.

From Psalm 65:9-13:

Thou visitest the earth, and blessest it; thou makest it very plenteous.
The river of God is full of water: thou preparest their corn, for so thou providest for the earth.
Thou waterest her furrows; thou sendest rain into the little valleys thereof; thou makest it soft with the drops of rain, and blessest the increase of it.
Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy clouds drop fatness.
They shall drop upon the dwellings of the wilderness; and the little hills shall rejoice on every side.
The folds shall be full of sheep; the valleys also shall stand so thick with corn, that they shall laugh and sing.

From John 15:11:
I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1153 [2]; Divine Providence 37)

The Bible

John 15:11

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

← John 15:10    Full Chapter    John 15:12 →

11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 1017, 2371, 9245

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 222


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 785, 919

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Spiritual Topics:


Resources for parents and teachers

Ask What You Desire Bookmark

Meditate on a verse from the Word and let it inspire you in a spiritual task. Cut out the color picture bookmark to keep or share.

Activity | Ages over 15

Bearing Fruit

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Bearing Good Fruit

Heaven is a kingdom of uses. Being useful is bearing good fruit.

Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

Branches of the Vine

If the Lord is the Vine and we are the branches, how would you draw a branch showing the kinds of things you do to help other people.

Activity | Ages over 15

Discipleship at Easter

The final events in Jesus' life unfolded quickly. The disciples responded to the changes in different ways. The twelve disciples picture qualities in us that follow the Lord. How do we respond when our faith is challenged?

Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

Elijah Calls Fire from Heaven - Level C

Complete lesson with activity choices: build an altar out of stones or a human pyramid, discuss what the prophets of Baal are in our lives, scripted story discussion, and a meditation and task on a verse from the Word.

Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

Elijah Calls Fire from Heaven - Level D

Complete lesson with activity choices: look at the differences between mazes and labyrinths, explore how evil appears in the light of heaven, scripted story discussion, and a meditation and task on a verse from the Word.

Sunday School Lesson | Ages 15 - 17

Family Worship: Abide in Me

Religion Lesson | All Ages

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Getting to know a variety of men or women helps us learn about the opposite sex and ultimately helps us learn what qualities we care about and will want in the person we marry.

Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

Friendship: The Outward Expression of Love

How does the Heavenly Doctrine of the New Church define friendship and what do they say we should base it on?

Worship Talk | Ages over 18

Fruit of the Vine

Talk about grapes and other fruit that grows on a vine. Consider making "a grape vine" of good deeds with "grape" beads to put on a green cord.

Activity | Ages 4 - 10

Greater Love Has No One Than This

Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

I Am the Vine

Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

I Am the Vine

Download and print this beautiful poster with words from John 15: 4-5. 

Picture | Ages over 7

I Am the Vine

Make a picture of the Lord as the Vine. Children may want to draw a branch for each member of the family while teens and adults may choose to draw a branch that represents their life, showing the fruit it is bringing forth.

Project | Ages 7 - 14

I Have Chosen You

Worship Talk | Ages over 18

Illustrate the Lord as the Vine

Make a picture of the Lord as the Vine. Children may want to draw a branch for each member of the family while teens and adults may choose to draw a branch that represents their life, showing the fruit it is bringing forth.

Project | Ages 7 - 14

Imagine the Lord's Joy!

 Picture the Lord's joy each time we take a step toward heaven. 

Activity | Ages over 15

Inspirational Quotation - Love One Another

Poster illustrating the Lord's commandment to love one another.

Picture | Ages over 8

Living a Significant Life

The Lord tells us what we must do if we wish to live a significant life.

Worship Talk | Ages over 15

Love

Article | Ages 15 - 17

Memory Verse: I Am the Vine

Activity | Ages 4 - 14

Prayers for Adults: Dealing with Other People with True Charity

Activity | Ages over 18

Prayers for Adults: Loving the Neighbor

Activity | Ages over 18

Quotes: I Am the Vine

Teaching Support | Ages over 15

Seeds Bearing Fruit Wreath or Ribbon Hanging

Make a wreath or ribbon hanging with various fruits, adding a piece of fruit each time you use the seeds of truth the Lord has given us.

Project | Ages 4 - 14

The Importance of the Ten Commandments

Worship Talk | Ages over 18

The Lord's Example of Friendship

The Lord is able to see our true spiritual character, and He loves the good that He is able to see in us. He constantly seeks to build on that good. We must follow the Lord’s own example and seek out what is good in others.

Article | Ages 15 - 17

The Parable of the Vine

A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.

Teaching Support | Ages over 3

The Parable of the Vine

Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.

Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

The Parable of the Vine (3-5 years)

Project | Ages 4 - 6

The Parable of the Vine (6-8 years)

Project | Ages 7 - 10

The Parable of the Vine (9-11 years)

Project | Ages 11 - 14

The Purpose of Creation

Birth brings a person into the natural world, but God's ultimate purpose is that a person be born again into heavenly life, the life of the spirit.

Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

The Vine and the Branches

Worship Talk | Ages over 18

The Visible God

Worship Talk | Ages over 18

The Wonder of the Lord's Word

When we read the Word, we have to reflect on what we have read and try to live according to it. Only this will lead to our happiness, which is why the Word has been given.

Article | Ages 15 - 17

Treasure Hunt

Make a treasure hunt, starting at the Lord's Word and ending at a bowl of grapes. Discuss how the truths of the Word, such as the Golden Rule, can lead to good fruit.

Activity | Ages up to 10

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Make a picture of the Lord as the Vine and people as the branches, bearing the fruit of useful activities.

Project | Ages over 15

Vine and Branches

Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..

Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

Vine and Branches

Explore the image of the vine and the branches, which illustrates our complete dependence on God.

Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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Article | Ages 15 - 17

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Activity | Ages over 18

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Worship Talk | Ages 11 - 14

You Are the Vine (sheet music)

Song | Ages 4 - 14


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