At Harvard University, you can take a course in happiness. This popular class helps students discover, as the professor states, “How to get happy.”

That’s not a bad idea. In fact, the Bible even suggests on several occasions the importance of being happy or joyful. Solomon tells us that God grants happiness to us as a privilege (Eccl. 3:12; 7:14; 11:9).

Sometimes, though, we take the search for earthly happiness too far. We see it as the most important pursuit, and even believe that our happiness is God’s highest goal for us. That’s when our thinking gets confused.

God’s Word tells us that true happiness comes by keeping God’s law (Ps. 1:1-2; Prov. 16:20; 29:18). God demands holiness and has called us to live a holy life—one that exemplifies His moral character (1 Thess. 4:7; 2 Peter 3:11). In Peter’s first letter we read, “As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

When we face decisions about the way we should act or how we should live, we must keep in mind that God’s command is not “Be happy,” but “Be holy.” True joy will come from a holy, God-honoring life.