Summary: The Beatitudes reveal the best keys to happiness.
How can we find true happiness? Is it found in heavenly thoughts?
Let us understand where true happiness comes from.
We will look at the beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12, keys to happiness.
One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them. 3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. 6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. 7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. 9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. 10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Matthew 5:1-12 More than Happy
What is more than happy? Being blessed is more than happy! After Jesus gave the Beatitudes during his sermon on the mount, it was written down in Greek using a word that is usually translated as blessed in English. However, it has also been translated as happy at times. A discussion among translators has been whether happy or blessed is a more accurate translation. Most translators seem to have come to the same conclusion, that happiness can be fleeting, but blessedness remains. The beatitudes are not keys to a fleeting emotion, but a core inner condition. So, the word blessed was chosen, because yes, we can be more than happy.
Matthew 5:3 Poor in Spirit
What does “poor in spirit” really mean? Poor people are dispossessed and abandoned, and have a deep sense that the world has failed them. Can a wealthy person be poor in spirit? Wealth deceives us into thinking that we are more important than the “little people.” Has the world provided for us or has the world in reality failed us? Jesus did not say “poor in possessions” but “poor in spirit.” The description is independent of this material world. The blessed of God rely on God not this world’s possessions, but boldly face the truth of our abject spiritual poverty. We are blessed people when heaven rules us, not material possessions.
Being poor in spirit is not the same as being in poor spirits. The word poor here means someone so destitute that they don’t even have food. How can that be blessed? Let’s take the opposite extreme, someone who believes they are spiritually filled and in need of nothing. This attitude makes someone obnoxious, self-satisfied, shallow and unpleasant to be around. Such people may constantly judge us as inferior and compare us with their so-called higher level of spirituality. They are in fact deluded by spiritual fools gold. Being poor in spirit is simply facing up to the facts. We are all desperately poor and in need of God’s merciful provision.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” not will be but is. Why does being poor in spirit guarantee heaven here and now? The kingdom of heaven is future and now. True Christianity is not among the spiritually arrogant, the deluded, but those who know they are neither filled nor satisfied, but spiritually destitute. When we are not deceived, but know our spiritual poverty, we become the Church, those whose only hope is heaven. Then we taste heaven on earth. We understand real instead of counterfeit Christianity. Spiritual junk and all counterfeit kingdoms are swept away leaving room for the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:4 Mourning
Why does Jesus say blessed are they that mourn? There is a time to mourn (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Mourning is part of the process of repentance. It prepares for a change of heart. Fasting is associated with mourning, a short period of abstinence from foods in order to pray. We need to mourn and humble ourselves before God (James 4:7-10), cleansing our hands of dirty deeds and purifying our hearts of wrongful thoughts. If we find no joy in our mistakes, or evils of this world, then there is hope for a change of heart. If we then turn to God to save us, he will bless and comfort us.