Summary: What are the secrets of happiness? Are they really secrets or just ignored? Let’s understand secrets of true, permanent happiness, found in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12.
What are the secrets of happiness? Are they really secrets or just ignored? Let’s understand secrets of true, permanent happiness, found in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12.
Poor in Spirit
Matthew 5:1-3 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.
The word usually translated as blessed also means happy. Most translators seem to have come to the same conclusion, that happiness can be fleeting, but blessedness remains. The beatitudes are keys to a core inner condition. So, the word blessed was chosen, because yes, we can be more than happy.
Poor people are dispossessed, abandoned, with a deep sense that the world has failed them. Can the wealthy be poor in spirit? Wealth deceives many into thinking that they 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 when heaven rules us, not material possessions.
Poor means destitute and without food, not someone who believes they are spiritually filled, in need of nothing, obnoxious, self-satisfied, shallow, judgmental, and 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. The kingdom of heaven is both future and here now. True Christians are not spiritually arrogant, deluded, but those who know they are neither filled nor satisfied, but spiritually destitute.
Matthew 5:4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
There is a time to mourn (Ecclesiastes 3:4). It’s part of repentance. Mourning prepares a change of heart. Fasting is associated with mourning, humbling ourselves before God (James 4:7-10), cleansing our hands of dirty deeds and purifying our hearts of wrongful thoughts. There is no joy in sin.
What if we never learn from our mistakes? Never mourning for personal sins is a dangerous attitude. Mourning means there is hope for better decisions next time. If we don’t mourn our mistakes, we will never be comforted. So yes, blessed are those that mourn, for THEY will be comforted.
Matthew 5:5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
Inheriting the land can be a metaphor for God’s provision. Who is more likely to be given a job, the arrogant misfit or the humble team player? Humility is ignored by the proud to their own hurt. Surely, the meek are blessed and inherit all the good things of life.
Weak people cover failures with lies. Meek people are strong enough to face the truth, that life is a mere vapor. Humble people are good company, not arrogant people. Overbearing buffoons don’t last long. Gentle people are loved by all and inherit the land after spineless bullies are long forgotten.
Matthew 5:6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
Praying “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” asks for God’s righteousness on earth. Is this impossible? The Holy Spirit patiently works with us and pricks our consciences to do right. Jesus promises that if we crave justice and what is right, we will be filled.
Righteousness is out of fashion. Our world craves to do wrong, yet there is an emptiness that can only be filled by righteousness. Jesus said blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Those who do, find an incredible sense of happiness beyond words, a blessing directly from heaven.
This is far above the fleeting thrills and hilarity of this world. What is right about right? Wrong produces pleasure for a night, a headache tomorrow and grinding burdens for life. The secret is that righteousness may be difficult, but it leaves unspoiled happiness for this life and the next.
Matthew 5:7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Our world is cruel, intolerant, indifferent, tyrannical, disdainful, accusatory, punishing, and totally lacking mercy. Who really cares about the sick or needy? Thankfully some tender-hearted souls work with sinners to guide them towards a better life. Jesus promised that if we show mercy, we too will be shown mercy.
Lack of mercy creates a police-state like atmosphere of secrecy and distrust. Mercy creates an atmosphere of trust, a warm, affirming atmosphere. Without mercy, we tend to cover up problems and leave them unresolved. In an atmosphere of mercy, we are not afraid to admit mistakes and they can be worked on.