Happiness Should Never be the Goal – Matthew 5: 1-12
“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’”
I was not going to write this week. I was on a break from work for the most part, and I was planning to take the weekend off from writing as well. But then I was watching a video interview with one of my current favorite speakers, and he mentioned that ‘happiness should never be the goal in life’. It immediately sparked this in me. So, I want to encourage you as we enter the new year not to pursue happiness. This has become the bane of people’s existence over the past 30+ years, and it has crept into the churches all around us. People are searching for happiness, and when they don’t find it they are like animals looking for water; they just keep moving on and on. Happiness is a by-product of righteous living, but not the goal of life.
Too many new converts come to Jesus looking for happiness, that fleeting euphoria that feels like ‘puppy love’. They are not ready to meet their sinful selves and have the Holy Spirit begin to question, convict and purge. They are looking for a feeling and not a relationship. They want a prize without the work.
Too many people look into marriage to find happiness: if I find the right girl with the right looks, or the man with the right job or the right abilities, then I can be happy. So, when the happiness wears off, they go looking for another guy or girl to make them happy. Marriages end and children get hurt in the pursuit of happiness.
Too many of the Lord’s churches find themselves in the same rut; the membership is looking for happiness, and they find it for a season. Then the work of being a child of God becomes just that – work – and the feeling of happiness wears off and they go looking for a new church.
In the Beatitudes we are shown by Jesus that Happiness, Blessings are bi-products of God’s spiritual work in us. First of all, the happiness that comes from the Lord is not fleeting, and it is based on eternal truths. Notice that in verse 4 we see ‘blessed are those who mourn’. This seems like an oxymoron; how can someone be mourning and be happy at the same time. Let me offer an example:
Just about 2 weeks ago, my pastor from my home church in Barbados died; he had served the church there for 45 years. He preached in the morning, went home, ate, took a nap, woke not feeling well, and died before he got to the hospital. We are in mourning; we miss him and love him. We mourn for his wife, family and church family, but we are also happy that he has entered into the Lord’s presence and has been met as a good and faithful servant. We are happy that we will see him again one day and that he is no longer in pain or stressed in any way. He is home. In the midst of that mourning, we are comforted by the Holy Spirit with the truth of the Bible: to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Thus, we are to pursue these things in the Beatitudes. We are to be humble (poor in spirit), meek (having ourselves under control, not seeking our own way), seeking righteousness (seek to be right with God and man). We are to be merciful (this one stumps me; I love the Lord’s mercy to me, but all too often I am not merciful to those around me). We are to be pure in heart. (Romans 12:1-2 tells us to be renewed by the transforming power of the Bible. We need to have new hearts given to us by God and washed in His blood.)
We are to make peace with those around us (put others first, serve rather than being served, forgive, forget, move on, give and give more). Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace; we should be able in His power and by His help to be peaceable with all that we can. Anyone can make a war; Godly men and women learn to make peace – first with God, then self, and then others. Happiness comes when we come to real and tangible understanding that we deserve death and hell forever, away from God. But in His matchless Love and Grace, He has offered us a way to be redeemed and to be with Him forever.
My dear friends, we are about to enter another year closer to Jesus’ return, and we are warned that as His return gets closer and closer that we will find it harder and harder to serve Him; we will be persecuted. Even in this we are to find blessedness, happiness. The apostles counted it as joyful that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ (Acts 5:41).
Folks, we do not hear about this in churches today. Suffering will not bring in the masses and build manmade cathedrals. But it is in suffering for Christ that we can find our strength, and it begins shortly after salvation when the Holy Spirit in you begins to make life hard, make habits hated, and begins to forge in us the image of Jesus. The Christian life was never designed to be comfortable, and it still is not set up to be that way.
If you pursue happiness, the Devil will let you find it fleetingly and always in the wrong places, doing the wrong things with the wrong people. But pursue God; pursue holiness; pursue being right with God and loving your neighbor, and the God of peace will also give you a measure of happiness that is even greater than mourning – the kind of happiness that is greater than suffering, the kind of happiness that bolsters hope in the Lord and love for Him, the kind of happiness that is not fleeting and cheap, and the kind of happiness that exists when all you have is God and no one else.
Happy New Year.
We will pick up in Revelation next week, the Lord willing.