Saturday, November 12, 2016

True Happines

It is so easy for me to get wrapped up in my quest to keep everyone around me happy. Trying to be superwoman is exhausting and unrealistic. God never meant to make anyone's happiness dependent upon people or performance. Instead, Jesus taught us the source of true "blessedness," also translated as "happiness," in the Beatitudes:

1. Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:3)
Jesus is offering to be at work in our lives:
Have you ever reached the end of your rope? That is exactly where God's kingdom can begin in our lives. Realizing that we have nothing to offer God positions us to receive what God is willing to do in us.

2. Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matt. 5:4)
Jesus is offering to save us from God's wrath:
Feeling bad about our sin is actually a good thing. The Holy Spirit evokes this in our lives, not to make us despondent and depressed, but to bring restoration. He wants us to realize that all we deserve is God's wrath. The Gospel truly becomes "good news" when we understand that Jesus allowed all of God's wrath to be poured out on Himself in our stead.

3. Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matt. 5:5)
Jesus is offering to be our refuge in times of trouble:
Did you know that Jesus is quoting Psalm 37:11 here? In doing this, Jesus is echoing the psalmist's encouragement to trust that God will act on behalf of those who choose to delight in Him rather than fret. He promises to deliver, vindicate, establish and even exalt those who wait on Him.

4. Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matth. 5:6)
Jesus is offering to make us righteous:
Loving God for what He has done for us should make us desire to become more like Him. He satisfies this hunger in two ways: He clothes us with Christ's righteousness, and also changes us to become more like Him.

5. Happy are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (Matt. 5:7)
Jesus is offering forgiveness:
Our relationship with God is real if it has a direct influence on how we treat others. When we are willing to let go of grudges and resentment, forgiving those who have wronged us, God, in turn, extends His forgiveness, freeing us from guilt and protecting us from bitterness.

6. Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matt. 5:8)
Jesus is offering us a relationship:
God is holy, absolutely pure, righteous and good. God's desire is to purify us so that we can intimately know Him who is infinitely holy.

7. Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matt. 5:9)
Jesus is offering to use us in His kingdom:
Once we start relating to God as our Heavenly Father, our natural desire is for others to experience this peace with God.

8. Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:10)
Jesus is offering for us to identify with Him in His sufferings:
Confessing our faith in Jesus will cause us to encounter pushback, but will also allow us to experience Jesus acknowledging us before the Father in heaven.

The Beatitudes could easily be misinterpreted as a ladder with eight rungs . Ironically, making it our goal to reach the top of this ladder would give us the illusion that this is something we can accomplish in our own strength, placing us back below the first rung. Jesus does not seek perfect performance, but desires for us to realize how much we really need Him. True happiness does not stem from our accomplishments, but from accepting what God is offering to do in us.