In one of Jesus most famous sermons, actually one of the most famous of all sermons, the Sermon the Mount found in Matthew 5 we have 8 positive statements about happiness called “The Beatitudes.” Of all the subjects Jesus could have chosen to speak on when he started the Sermon on the Mount He chose the subject How to Be Happy. Why? Because He knew that was what everybody was searching for but very few people find it.
- Matthew 5: 3-12 is commonly referred to as “The Beatitudes.”
- Each of the nine “Beatitudes” begins with the word “happy” or “blessed.”
Each of these begins with the word “happy or blessed”. The Greek word used is “makarios” which can be translated as blessed or happy. The word “blessed” is an Old English word. It simply means “happy”. Jesus says “Happy are you if you’re poor in spirit for yours is the kingdom of heaven… Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted … Happy are the meek for they will inherit the earth … Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled … Happy are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. Happy are the pure in heart for they will see God. Happy are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God. Happy are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- What Jesus says seems to be a contradiction.
The thought that genuine joy and satisfaction comes from being poor in anything is diametrically opposed to the conventional wisdom of today’s culture. In the minds of those who have bought into the world’s way of thinking, verse 3 ought to read “Blessed are the rich, the famous, the powerful, the movers and shakers, the important, the aggressive, the self-reliant, the self-confident, the glamorous…” In today’s world, being “poor in spirit” is equated with being depressed, weak, timid, and passive. Everyone knows that this is not the way to get ahead. This is not the way to attain “happiness.”
When you read those things, does that sound like contradictions? Happy if you’re sad… happy if you’re poor … happy if you’re put down and persecuted! That does not sound like happiness to me. Jesus was saying that you can learn to be happy in spite of your circumstances. If you have to have all of your problems solved before you become happy, will you ever be happy? No. If you have to have everything perfect in your life before you’re happy, will you be happy? No.
- Jesus shows me that happiness is not determined by external circumstances but by my internal
The popular idea of happiness is having the right circumstances. But God’s way to happiness is having the right attitude.
My happiness is not determined by what’s happening around me, but rather by what’s happening in me.
Happiness is a choice. You choose the right attitudes. Basically right now, whether you’re happy or sad, or somewhere in between, you’re about as happy as you choose to be. Life is tough. There are a lot of things that don’t go right and don’t go your way in life. Happiness depends on choosing the right attitudes.
For the next nine weeks we’re going to look at these Beatitudes of How to be Happy. It starts Mother’s Day. I hope you can join us!