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Wanna be Happy? 

Matthew 5:1-12

 

"And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. [2] And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying,  [3] ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  [4] Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  [5] Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. [6] Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. [7] Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  [8] Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [9] Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  [10] Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [11] Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. [12] Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'" (NASB)

Eight times Jesus begins a sentence with the same words, "Blessed are..."  Before we look at the things He said after those words, I want us to concentrate on those two words.  What does it mean to be blessed?  It is a religious sounding word, isn't it?  It is pregnant with virtue–a stained glass sort of a word.  The truth is, the Greek word simply means happy.  In English, blessed is a word of much higher rank than happy, but that isn't the intent here.  This word simply means happy.  In other Greek literature, the same word is largely used to denote "outward prosperity."  (Robertson, p. 39) For some reason, I struggle to translate the word the way I know it is supposed to be translated.  It seems almost sacrilegious to use the word happy instead of blessed, doesn't it?  Actually, I checked the modern translations and paraphrases I have and only the Living Bible uses the word happy, and it doesn't do it all the time, some of the times it uses the word "fortunate."  Why do you think we have a hard time using the common, earthy word "happy" here?  Perhaps it is because we have a hard time believing Jesus is concerned with our happiness.  Or maybe because the things he is talking about here are so counter to our common idea of happiness that we can't conceive that "happy" is what he meant to say. 

I am convinced that in these verses, Jesus is talking about what it takes to be happy–good ‘ol run of the mill, ordinary happiness that seems to escape so many people today.  Certainly the things He promises are things that will make a person happy, things like heaven, comfort, inheriting the earth, being satisfied, receiving mercy, seeing God, and being called the sons of God.  Whatever a person has to go through in life to receive those things would be worth it in the end.  But I don't get the feel from reading this scripture that Jesus is saying that if we persevere through the horrible process the destination will be worth it all, rather, I believe He is saying that we can be happy through the process too. 

Yet, these are the kind of verses that leave the reader with the question, "Did I read that right?  Is Jesus really saying this is the way to be happy?"   Being poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty, or being persecuted certainly don't meet the, "Yeah, that's what is going to make me happy test."

How ‘bout you?  You wanna be happy?  If so, you will need to be poor in spirit. Matthew 5:3 says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Notice Jesus doesn't say poor in general–He said "poor in spirit."  So He's not talking about a lack of money, rather it is an attitude of knowing that when it comes to spiritual things I am bankrupt before God–totally depraved.  It is living life with a sense of humility and dependence upon Him.  A person who is poor in spirit is honest about their strengths and weaknesses.  Psalm 51:17 says, "It is a broken spirit you want--remorse and penitence. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not ignore." (TLB)

Happy people are poor in spirit, but they are also mournful.  Matthew 5:4 says, "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."  (KJV)   And why wouldn't they be?  Anyone who has a sense of their own depravity will be grieved by their sinfulness.  People that are flippant about their sin will become calloused and have an inherent inability to be happy.  2 Cor. 7:11 says, "See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter." (NIV) 

When people are in touch with their depravity and it breaks their hearts, they will be meek people. Matthew 5:5 says, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."  (KJV) Meekness is not weakness.  Jesus was meek, but not weak.  In Matthew 11:29 he said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (KJV) Moses was also meek, but not weak.  Numbers 12:3 says, "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth."  (KJV) A meek person is powerful, but is under God's control.  They are not bulls in china closets, but are more like powerful horses under the control of their rider.

Happy people know they are spiritually bankrupt, are brokenhearted over their sins, are under God's control and have a yearning for righteousness.  Matthew 5:6 says, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." (KJV) Everybody craves something, what are you craving?  Some crave (have an uncontrollable urge for) influence & power but find destruction. Psalm 73:6 says, "Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment." (KJV) Others crave money but find evil 1 Tim 6:10-11 says, "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. [11] But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."  (KJV)  Still others crave youthful lusts but find death.  Prov 7:21-23 says, "With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. [22] He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; [23] Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life."  (KJV) That's why 2 Tim 2:22 says, "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (KJV) Notice what Paul advises Timothy to pursue instead of lusts–righteousness.  Because those who crave righteousness find happiness.

Happy people are poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness and are merciful.  Matthew 5:7 says, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."  (KJV) Mercy begins with your pain in my heart.  Mercy is what keeps righteousness from becoming harshness, because without mercy, righteousness doesn't exist. Psalm 37:21 says, "The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth."  (KJV) To be truly righteous, a person must be merciful.

Happy people are poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, merciful and have pure hearts.  Matthew 5:8 says, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."  (KJV ) Duplicitous, scheming people will never be happy, but those with pure hearts will be.

Happy people are poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, merciful, have pure hearts and make peace among others. Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."  (KJV)   Really, when you think about it, who else is qualified to be peacemakers except those who take their sin seriously, are brokenhearted about their sinful state, are submitted to God's control, crave righteousness are merciful toward others and have pure hearts? 

But bringing peace in other people's lives does not necessarily mean you will lead a peaceful existence.  Actually, it may mean just the opposite.  Matthew 5:10-12 says, "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [11] Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. [12] Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (NASB) 

Yet even in the midst of unfair treatment, believers find happiness, because they know it isn't justified, and because they know their reward is great.  In short, happiness doesn't come from engineering circumstances and following the path of least resistance, but from living life to the fullest and plunging into God's grace and pursuing His will, wherever it takes you.

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