Jesus' recipe for Happiness: Part 1 - Hope 103.2

Jesus’ recipe for Happiness: Part 1

Morning Devotions is for those curious about the Christian faith and who want to explore Christian issues that relate to their daily life.

By Chris WittsThursday 3 Jul 2014Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 0 minutes

Transcript:

Today I want to examine a topic that has been talked about thousands of times and written about – the theme of happiness. It’s a popular subject because everyone wants to be happy. I’ve never met anyone who does not want to be happy.  But our problem is this. What must we do to be happy?  How is it achieved? Is there some formula that that can guarantee happiness? Victor Frank used to say “It is the very pursuit of happiness that stops happiness”. I think I know what he meant. In trying to find happiness,we get lost along the way. Some people think a big bank balance will achieve happiness or early retirement,or an overseas trip. But these are only fleeting things that will not give lasting happiness.

Back in Bible times there were 3 main sources of wealth – there was food (corn and grain),clothes (a symbol of wealth) and gold and silver. Times have changed and today wealth takes different forms. But there is still the mistaken idea it will bring personal happiness.

1.  Matthew 5:3  “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor: the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them”(TEV)  The more familiar translation says “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

This would have been a strange teaching coming from a Rabbi who would normally say “God I thank you that I’m not like the rest of men”. But to hear Jesus talk about poverty like that would have been shocking in the extreme. He says “If you have a sense of your own spiritual poverty,and have nothing to offer,you can find everything in Me. In exchange for your poverty I’ll give you the riches of My grace”.

This is all about the absence of pride,a feeling of self sufficiency. It means that in myself I have not much to bring to Him. I am poor in spirit.

Dr Reg Johnson of Asbury Seminary in the US put a question out to his Bible students when talking of this verse. He says “Am I looking to God for my sense of worth as a person and utterly depending upon Him for sufficiency in all my responsibilities?”.

In Westminster Abbey are buried many famous people. But visitors usually ask about the tomb of the unknown soldier and the tomb of David Livingstone. The man who sought to bury himself in Africa is the most sought person in the Abbey. The rich and important are forgotten,but not those who are poor in spirit.

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2.  Matthew 5:4  “Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them”.

J.B.Phillips translates this as “How happy are those who know what sorrow means,for they will be given courage and comfort”. On the surface this seems such an absurd  teaching – how could anyone be glad in times of sorrow?  Our society wants pleasure and entertainment. Many want to enjoy life and put sorrow and pain away as far as possible.

Jesus is not just talking about the death of a loved one,but of any experience in life which has the potential to crush and break us. It means that a spiritually healthy person can acknowledge and feel sorrow,not run away from it. We cannot avoid feeling hurt and pain,and when we turn to the Lord in our sadness He brings His special touch of comfort.  How many of us find it difficult to face and feel the negative emotions like anger and hurt and disappointments. Being a Christian means we have divine help to face all reality,however painful that may be.

CS Lewis once wrote “if we are not willing to face pain then we will not experience true joy. If you feel emotional pain,open yourself to it and you will find through the back door the strength and comfort of the Lord.” What Lewis is saying is this – God can’t comfort anyone who doesn’t show Him their wounds. 

Message translation says “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you”.

3.  “Happy are the meek; they will receive what God has promised”. Mathew 5:5 .

Here is the 3rd of 8 teachings of Jesus. And possibly one of the least understood of all. It’s not a popular saying,and indeed I’ve heard someone say “What’s all this about? I’m aggressive by nature,so I can’t be meek and mild. That’s the way I am”. But in reality these words of Jesus have nothing to do with temperament. Everyone of us is meant to be meek in the sense in which Jesus uses the word. It’s not about being easy going or indifferent – it’s not saying “oh well,whatever will be will be”,or “take life as it comes”. It’s not being a pleasant personality. No – Meekness is a characteristic that comes from a deep trust in God’s ability to work out His purposes in my life.
Jesus was a meek person because He said “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).

Meek people have their ups and downs,but are patient and teachable. They don’t suffer from a “know it all” attitude. They listen – they don’t get defensive.

Jesus said such people will inherit the earth – they are balanced.