Read Matthew 5:1-12.
Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes or Blessings. When you look up the Greek meaning of the word "blessed" here, it means: "blessed, happy." I thought it very interesting that "happy" is included in the definition. What does it mean to be happy? In today's American terms, happiness conjures up images of big homes, fast, shiny cars, powerful jobs, perfect children, and lots of fun stuff. You know, the American dream. But I'm pretty sure that is not the happiness that Jesus is talking about. When he says that I will be 'happy' when I am persecuted and insulted, that just doesn't mesh with what I have been taught by this culture as happiness.
As we begin to read through the beatitudes together over the next several days, we must start with a new definition of happiness. Happy is not a birthday cake, party, and a table full of presents. Happy is not receiving a bonus check from your boss. Happy is not having a two week vacation. Happy is not that new promotion. Happy is not getting a new car. These things are all temporary. They can be gone in an instant. Jesus is talking about something much deeper and centered on the eternal, not the temporal.
For my own way of thinking, I think of this as not "happiness" whose definition our culture has really distorted, but instead I think of "joy." Now I'm not rewriting the Bible here, just giving myself a starting point that I can grab onto. Happiness to me is of the moment, but joy is abiding. Joy is not influenced by my circumstance, but resides deep within me because of the choices I've made to follow Christ. I may be bombarded right and left and that will certainly affect how happy I feel. But the attacks will not touch the joy I have in the Lord. It's too ingrained into the core of my being to be displaced so easily by a few bumps in the road. I may not be happy when I face obstacles or disappointments, but I can maintain my joy.
Now I need to work on removing the word, "happy" from my culturally distorted viewpoint and reestablish it in my heart and mind as Christ intended. My blessedness or happiness is not dependent on what is happening around me or to me, it is in trusting in and living out my life in Jesus Christ. That is where my happiness resides. Circumstances will not change my inner being. You can attack my body and take away all my 'stuff,' but you will not touch my soul. I am blessed by the Almighty. And that makes me so very happy.
- Follow the link above to the Greek definition of "blessed." Click on the books of the Bible to the right and read other Scriptures that have the same word in them.
- Based on this new definition, would you say Job was blessed? Before, during, or after Satan attacked him? Why?
- Review the life of Paul, was he happy? How do you know? Support with Scripture.
- Are you struggling with being happy? Maybe you are allowing your circumstances to dictate your happiness. Spend some time alone with the Lord asking Him to show you your true happiness in Him.
- Even in the midst of difficult circumstances, we can acknowledge ways that we are blessed. Write down the blessings in your life, both internal and external. Then give thanks to our Lord who is the provider of all good things.