Beatitudes: Keys to Real Happiness
Many people today seem to think they know how true happiness is found. True happiness can be experienced by anyone. Some would claim this to be truth, but according to the Bible, this statement is false. There are those who believe materialistic happiness is sufficient to living the best life, but “true” happiness is eternal. They spend most of their lives looking to find peace and happiness in search of worldly possessions such as buying the latest car, having the most money, and even climbing the corporate ladder. Sadly this is what our society has become today.
Jesus, in His first sermon, speaks of happiness in terms of being blessed. In the original Greek language, the word “blessed” simply means to be “happy”. Of course the world tells us how we can achieve happiness, but it is only temporary happiness. Happiness spoken of through Jesus is portrayed to us as what is only in the heart of believers. True happiness is found from putting on the proper attitude. The Sermon on the Mount can help us to identify true happiness by way of understanding the importance of the beatitudes and how each of them are still relatable to us today.
Jesus gave us keys to real happiness known as the Beatitudes in His Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount may be one of the most familiar passages in the New Testament, but do we understand fully what Jesus is promising and asking of his disciples in the words of the Beatitudes?
The Beatitudes is one of the most often quoted passages in the Bible. These promises to the faithful appear at the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The account is recorded in Matthew 5:3-12. The word beatitude comes from the Latin beatitudo which translates as “happiness”.
Scholars generally regard the statements as spiritual assurances of reward for those who suffer for their faith in this life. However, I believe they represent far more than that. Clearly, Jesus believed the characteristics he describes are the hallmarks of a spiritual and happy person. I concur.
2000 years later they remain a measuring stick by which we can evaluate our own development as people. Do we bless and encourage the attributes described by Jesus? Do we encourage our children to embody these values? How about those we place in positions of authority over us? Do they bless and promote these values? Or, do they exhibit behaviours that are the polar opposite? Do we too much extol the virtue of the warrior and deride the peacemaker? Do we thirst for justice or have we become content with a comfortable corruption? Do we comfort all who mourn or only those on our side? Have we so divided the world into “us” and “them” that mercy is no longer an option? Do we see these ideas and the people who promote them as weak and unrealistic?
Are they just nice words or are they traits we should seek to develop in ourselves and our children? Do we mean to create a society based on these ideals or continue to be led down paths going the other direction? These concepts are grounded in love while hate, anger, and fear are the engines driving our world today.
I am not here today to answer these questions for us but I am simply asking the questions. However, I will offer this. Whether you are a Christian, a spiritual seeker, or just someone trying to see the world in a more positive and hopeful way, the logic and compassion of these virtues is inescapable.
Many earnestly believe in these words, but have been taught that such a world is not and will not be possible. To them, I suggest that as long as you hold that mindset; you are correct. But the moment enough of us are willing to release that mental block, a whole new world is born.
Just as people must grow and grow up societies must do the same. The opportunities are there for us every day. The question is only whether we will choose a new course or remain on our present one.
Here are Jesus’ words. As you read them, consider, for at least one moment, what the world can be instead of just what it is today.
· Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
· Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
· Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
· Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
· Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
· Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
· Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
· Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
The Beatitudes are not mere rhetoric, but apply to every area of life, from poverty and one’s attitude towards money and things and how we care for those who have less to our relationship to the earth, to matter itself and to ecology.
The Beatitudes teach us how to “be peace,” not just be at peace, but to become peace so that peace can spread, and that peace can come from being rooted both in the life of God and in the physical world.
The Beatitudes were not just a list of qualities or character traits that needed to be followed religiously or legalistically, but rather they were aspirations on how to achieve a level of happiness that is unknown to the world. There is certainly a difference regarding true happiness in relating to the character of Jesus and in relation to how the world views it.
The Beatitudes teach us how to treat other people. The Beatitudes teach us how to act. Jesus knew our relationships with each other are the most important thing about life.
For a Christian to stick with their beliefs, they believe they are doing the right thing. They expect people not to like it, to disagree and go against them. It doesn’t matter how much persecution they get they will continue to stand on their beliefs. Unmistakably, there are many ways by which the beatitudes become an integral factor in your everyday life.
The fruit of the first Beatitude, for those who are poor in spirit, is the same as for those who are persecuted for righteousness. Being a real Christian will bring on persecution—but, we will stand and be strong in the Lord.
The blessedness that comes from this way of thinking and this entire way of life is an inner contentment that cannot come from the ways of this world. Look around, and you will see that so many people in the world are empty, without the blessed contentment that you as a Christian can know and experience.
Yes, as Christians we are called out of this world and its ways of jealousy, envy and pride—attitudes that produce only strife and discord. Do you want to have inner peace and contentment? Then practice the way of life that Jesus Christ gave us in the Beatitudes.
The Secret of Happiness - Billy Graham
John Macarthur’s Bible Studies: The Beatitudes - John F. Macarthur
Merciful Meekness: Becoming a Spiritually Integrated Person - Kerry S. Walters
The Beatitudes of Christ: The Way of the Blessed Life - Howard Agnew Johnston