When people are asked what would make them happy, many think of things that involve possessions, wealth, fame, or power. To some, these things bring a fleeting sort of happiness. But pursuit of these things always becomes just that: a pursuit, an on-going chase. A little makes you want more. Then more. And more. This is not happiness.
In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus tells his disciples the simple formula for being happy. Let’s take a look at verses 5 through 10. Jesus begins each verse with “Blessed are” (actually the “are”s were added later by translators, originally Jesus said, “Blessed, the meek”, “Blessed, the merciful”) and so on. The word translated as “blessed” is the Greek word, makarios, which means “supremely blesst, fortunate, well-off”. It is closely related to another form, “makarizo” which indicates large in size or length. He is not talking about being a little blessed, but being hugely, supremely blessed!
- “the poor in spirit” describes the humble, those who are destitute of spirit. That doesn’t sound very happy, but it is commonly found that humans do not reach out to God when things are going well. Then they are haughty of spirit, thinking they’re doing fine on their own. When the need to reach out for something beyond their own soul comes, then they turn to God. Once we realize that need, and hold to it, the blessings come.
- “those who mourn” Those who are hurting, who weep over the pain of life. “for they shall be comforted”, refers to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who can move us to joy.
- “the meek” does not mean “the mousy”. In different places the word meek means different things, here it means humble, mild, gentle. It does not denote weakness, but restraint. A meek person knows that he has the strength of God Almighty behind him, but does not try to wield that for personal gain. “for they shall inherit the Earth”.
- “hunger and thirst for righteousness” The word “righteousness” means “a right standing with God”. It has nothing to do with being better than other people, it has everything to do with being conformed to God’s expectations of us. When we diligently seek to be obedient, we “shall be filled” with the Spirit, and our worldly needs will be met.
- “the merciful” this word: eleemon, means to be not simply possessed of pity but to be actively compassionate. The merciful do not simply feel, they act on their compassion. “For they shall obtain mercy.” When we reach out to meet the needs of hurting people, we receive mercy from God and find happiness in our actions.
- “the pure in heart” are the holy. “Holy” means, “set apart for use by God”. These people act through guileless motives, undefiled thoughts, and a clean conscience. The pure in heart do not engage in worldly behaviors. If we hunger for righteousness, we seek God’s approval, not that of our worldly contemporaries. When we succeed, we “shall see God” meaning we will worship Him at His throne when the end of times has completed.
- “the peacemakers” are not just intermediaries who pacify, but healers. This word conjurers an image of rejoining or welding two parts back into a whole. These “shall be called Sons of God”.
- “the persecuted for righteousness sake” does not include all forms of persecution. Someone can feel persecuted because they’re a busy-body or because they are abrasive and not be counted in this promise. Only those who are persecuted for standing up for God and doing His work receive this blessing.
Jesus was persecuted in this manner. The Pharisees hounded Him for his teachings. They tried to shut Him up, and eventually convinced the Romans to execute Him – thinking that would be the end of His cult. They were wrong. Just as Jesus was raised and restored to the kingdom of Heaven, so shall be those who speak and act upon the word of God through mercy, a pure heart, and humility. When we live out the beatitudes we claim these rewards, and that brings true happiness. Not some fleeting worldly merriment, but being eternally happy.
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