How happy are you?
Every person who’s ever been born into this world has pursued happiness, but not all have found it. Here’s the secret.
Before Jesus preached his famous speech known today as the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, the Bible says that “he saw the crowds” (Matt 5:1). He saw that they were sad and unhappy. That’s why he started his sermon with what we call the ‘Beatitudes’.
The Beatitudes, found in the fifth chapter of Matthew, are one of the best-known parts of Jesus’ famous sermon. It’s a series of sayings, each starting with the phrase, “Blessed are the…” The word beatitude is an old-fashioned term, that means a “supreme blessing”.
So the thinking goes, that if you follow the beatitudes, you will be supremely blessed – and who doesn’t want to be supremely blessed!
Jesus’ Version of Happiness
When Jesus says, “Blessed are the…” in the original language, it means “Happy are the…”. That makes sense, because to be totally happy surely has to be the same as being supremely blessed, right? But after this, that’s when it starts to get confusing, because the people whom Christ says are the happy ones – the ones who are supremely blessed – are not the ones who have the money, the fame, and the success.
Instead, the happy ones are the “poor in spirit”, “those who mourn”, the “meek”, the ones who “hunger and thirst after righteousness”, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and even “those who are persecuted”.
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This can be challenging and hard to understand, because we have been taught that what makes us happy is what we have. What Jesus is telling us, though, is that what makes us happy is who we are. If our spirits are humble before God, if the desire of our hearts is the goodness of God, if we are merciful, and if we are peacemakers, then we will be happy. This is the greatest blessing.
Happiness That Withstands the Troubles of Life
Even better, this is a happiness that can withstand the troubles that life can bring. If your happiness depends on what we have, all of that that can be taken away, because money can be lost, and friends can abandon us. But when your happiness depends on who you are, nobody can take that away.
“If your happiness depends on what we have, all of that that can be lost… but when your happiness depends on who you are, nobody can take that away.”
How do we get to be the kind of people that Jesus describes in the Beatitudes? None of us are naturally merciful and pure in heart. None of us are naturally peacemakers. And that’s why we never find the supreme blessing of true happiness. However, these qualities are all the gift of God through the Holy Spirit, to those who have accepted His Son, Jesus Christ (Gal 5:22–24).
Too many people struggle all their lives to be happy, but they never find happiness, because they look for it in all the wrong places. To understand the radical teaching of Jesus in the Beatitudes is to be liberated from the tyranny of things. Because happiness grows from who you are, and not from what you have.
You are a child of God, and that is all the basis for happiness that you need (John 1:12–13).
(Inspired by the writings of Des Ford.)
Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez. About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is a writer, broadcaster and church pastor at Good News Unlimited.
Main image by Jordan Bauer, on Unsplash