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The Beatitudes

What makes people happy?  Is there a single answer to this question, or do the answers vary from person to person?  It seems that different people seek happiness in different ways because each person has his or her own opinions and values.  Some place a high value upon material things, and so they think that happiness is found in wealth and possessions.  Some crave recognition and acclamation, and so they are made happy by the praise and admiration of others.  Some value relationships with other people above all things, and so they are made happy by good marriages, strong families, and close friends.  The point is that different people engage in the pursuit of happiness in different ways.

What if there was a single way in which all people could achieve true happiness forever?  What if that way of happiness promised the results of comfort, satisfaction, mercy, a grand inheritance, a great reward in heaven, the right to become a child of God, the right to see God, and the right to the kingdom of heaven?  Shouldn’t those promises be enough to make anyone happy?  If there was such a way to eternal happiness, wouldn’t everyone follow it?

There truly is one way to eternal happiness that works for all people, and the Lord Jesus Christ has provided it.  The Lord revealed His formula for happiness in a sermon He gave on a hill in Galilee, His famous “Sermon on the Mount.”  This formula for happiness is found in a series of statements given by the Lord and recorded in Matthew 5:3-12 that has come to be known as the “beatitudes.”  The word “beatitude” is not found in the Bible, but it comes from the Latin word beatus, which means “blessed” or “happy.”  Beatitudes is an appropriate description for the Lord’s formula for happiness, for each statement of the beatitudes begins with the word “blessed,” which means “happy.”  These beatitudes of Jesus promise happiness to anyone who is willing to meet the conditions that He has set forth.

So then, if the Lord has provided a universal formula for happiness, why is there so much unhappiness in the world?  The answer is that many are not meeting the conditions for happiness given by the Lord.  Why are many not meeting those conditions?  For this question, there are several answers: (1) Some have never heard the words of the Lord, and so they do not know how to pursue happiness in the Lord’s way.  For this reason, Christians need to be diligent to spread Christ’s words to others.  (2) Some have heard the words of Christ, but they simply do not believe them, and therefore they do not act upon them.  (3) Some have heard the words of Christ and believe them, but their faith is weak, and so they remain unhappy because they do not fully implement Christ’s message.

To achieve true happiness according to the Lord’s beatitudes, a person must have faith in the Lord.  Faith is “assurance of things hope for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).  To be happy through the beatitudes, a person will have to truly believe and trust that Jesus will deliver the fulfillment of His promises in the future.  If anyone requires instant gratification in order to be happy, then the beatitudes will not work for him.  Moreover, if anyone is not willing to sacrifice in the present for a bountiful return from the Lord in the future, then the beatitudes will not work for him.  The beatitudes require a person to give up the seen for the unseen, to trade in the material for the spiritual, and to swap the world for heaven.  Those who are not faithful or spiritual in their thinking will never comply with the faithful, spiritual wisdom of Christ’s beatitudes and will never be truly, eternally happy.

In the next few articles, we will carefully consider each of the Lord’s beatitudes.  In each statement, we will notice the condition required by the Lord, the promise given by the Lord, and how we can apply the Lord’s teaching to ourselves.  The goal of our study is to find true happiness by living according to these words of Christ.

Next: “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit”

Stacey E. Durham




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