Summary: Jesus knew the importance of being happy, and that is why He begins His greatest sermon with a list of ways to be perfectly happy on earth for those who would follow Him and be citizens of the kingdom of heaven.

Edwin Markham in his poem The Shoes Of Happiness tells the

story of a king in Istanbul who was ill. He called his wise men

together to find a cure. They studied the situation and announced that

only one thing could cure him, and that was for him to wear the shoes

of a perfectly happy man. Off they went, therefore, to find this rare

man and bring back his shoes. They went to a rich man, but found

him unhappy because of worry over his money. They were

disappointed everywhere they went, for they could not find happiness

where they expected it. Neither the young nor the old supplied their man.

The young were restless that youth should stay; The old were sad that it went away.

On they searched finding lovers worried over their beloved, and

soldiers unhappy over their dead comrades, and even the wise

carefree pilgrim did not fit the bill.

But the pilgrim answered with star-still eyes,

I am not glad, I am only wise.

It appeared that the search was hopeless until one morning they

met a tramp of a man with laughter on his face, and he was singing as

he walked. They had found their happy man at last, and they rushed

to him eagerly only to discover that he had no shoes.

Markham was expressing his philosophy of happiness. He felt it

could only be found by giving up things. He had a point, for Jesus

recognized that some people are unhappy just because they are

possessed by their possessions. He counseled the rich one ruler to find

satisfaction and happiness by giving up his riches. It is possible then

to find happiness by the giving up of things. John Oxenham wrote,

Some have much, and some have more.

Some are rich, and some are poor,

Some have little, some have less,

Some have not a cent to bless.

Their empty pockets, yet possess

True riches in true happiness.

In Luke 6:20 Jesus is recorded as speaking to the literal poor and

saying, "Blessed (or happy) are ye poor for yours is the kingdom of

God." On the other hand, it would be very superficial to conclude

that poverty is the biblical road to bliss. The facts of life, and the rest

of Scripture no more support this than the other fallacy that riches

are the key to happiness. Kim Hubbard said, "It's pretty hard to tell

what does bring happiness. Poverty and wealth have both failed.

Most of what Jesus taught about happiness does not deal with the

absence or presence of possessions at all, but with what a person is in

himself. The blessedness, happiness, and joy of Christ was not in

anything he had, but in what he was. If our goal is to be Christlike

than a happy new year for us will consist in becoming more like Him.

Happiness on its highest level is not to be found in what comes to us,

but in what we come to be. That is what the beatitudes are all about.

Jesus knew the importance of being happy, and that is why He

begins His greatest sermon with a list of ways to be perfectly happy on

earth for those who would follow Him and be citizens of the kingdom

of heaven. Jesus wishes to each of His followers, not only a happy new

year, but a perpetually happy new life. Jesus expected His disciples to

be the happiest people on earth. Sometimes this has been true, and

sometimes not. Tertullian, and early Christian writer, said, "The

Christian saint is hilarious." Jesus said to His own, "My joy be with

you." The fruit of the spirit is joy, and time and time again through

history Christians have produced hilarious saints. A member of the

Salvation Army band was once asked not to beat the drums so loud.

He replied, "Lord bless you sir, since I have been converted I am so

happy, I could bust the blooming drums."

Every person wants to be happy, or if they are already reasonably

happy they want to be intensely happy. William James in his classic

book Varieties Of Religious Experience writes, "How to gain, how to

keep, how to recover happiness is in fact for most men at all times the

secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure."

Happiness is not only a result of health and peace of mind, it is also a

cause of these values. Philip Gibbs in The Hidden City writes,

"Unhappiness affects the internal secretions. It has an odd effect on

the heart sometimes. It lowers physical resistance. It debilitates the

nervous system and weakens willpower. Sometimes it leads to queer

obsessions. Louis Evans went so far as to say, "More people are sick

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