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Matthew 5: Happiness is...

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Read Matthew 5:1-12

We think we are happy when we have our family all around us, we are enjoying our time together, and everything is as we think it should be.

Why do we think we are happy?

It’s probably because we are happy. Happiness is one of those things that you just know it when it happens to you. People write books about it. People sell pills and potions that say they will deliver it.

But for so many, happiness seems elusive. People chase happiness never quite getting a good grasp on it.

We buy toys and bigger toys and shinier toys.

We party like it’s 1999 even though it’s 2014.

We look forward to the weekend or whatever days our days off of work fall upon.

We go to faraway places and buy plastic vacations and plastic souvenirs to prove to others that we did find some happiness.

Then we come to the Beatitudes and the words, “Blessed are those…”

The Good News Translations says, “Happy are those.”

And Jesus tells those listening that the way they see possessions and wisdom and love and faith and persecution might be getting in the way of their happiness.

To feed your spirit with things of this world to get that temporary high might work for a while, but knowing that your spirit is incomplete without God’s own Spirit as best friend gets you a lot closer to happiness.

Those who pour their hearts out over their brothers and sisters are the ones who really know comfort. The world says that you must get all you can to make sure you are comfortable but Jesus says that God will comfort those who feel the plight of those who hurt.

When our heart is set upon serving others, God gives us comfort.

The world says, if you want to get ahead then you had better get in there and fight for it. Jesus says that those who are gentle and even reserved when it comes to taking care of themselves will be given what they need. Trusting in God’s promises results in being the beneficiary of God’s promises.

The person who is looking out for number one—meaning their own interests—is not nearly as happy as the person who commits to doing what God requires. God will fully satisfy them.

Some of these teachings seem to be a little less provocative. Those who show mercy will receive mercy. That falls within the paradigms of most folks.

This whole do unto others mindset is something that we can understand. We may not always live that way but we do understand the concept.

If we give mercy then we will receive mercy. There is always the exception that proves the rule.

Then we come to happy are the pure in heart and that sounds great at first but it surely conflicts with the way most of us live.

· For when we are wronged, we want revenge.

· When we are hurt we want the hurter to hurt more.

· When we get cheated we want to get even.

The pure in heart trust God. They trust God with all aspects of their lives. They are not tainted by selfish desires.

The pure in heart are blessed—they are happy—because they don’t live asking, “What’s in it for me?”

Next we come to the peacemakers. Who are the peace makers? They are the ones who work for peace.

They are not Miss America candidates who say, “I’m going to be the best looking astronaut in history and of course, help with world peace.”

The operative word in the Good News Translation is work. They work for peace among people. Peace begins in our homes and schools and even our congregations.

The peacemakers, much like the pure in heart, set aside their own agendas for one of reconciliation.

We finally come to teaching on suffering and persecution. Jesus doesn’t say, “OK, just tough these times out until they get better.”

He says that those who are persecuted for doing what God requires are happy.

Peter, James, and surely many other disciples were taking notes here.

Peter said that it is commendable to bear up under the pain of unjust suffering. This is not suffering in the hospital because you forgot to wear your safety goggles and steel-toed boots. This is suffering for Christ. It is suffering because you have rejected the world and follow Jesus.

James told those Jewish believers to consider it pure joy when they went through trials for the name of Jesus. Bearing up is one thing. Pure joy is another. But those are his words and they are consistent with what Jesus taught.

Jesus tells these people that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. He told them that they will have a great reward.

Jesus is saying that if you are living a life given to God and people mistreat you, then you find yourself in good company—in the company of the prophets.

Now we could look at the Beatitudes and try to come up with a taxonomy or hierarchy of who gets what for doing what. You know, if condition A is met then result B is:

· Kingdom of Heaven

· Inherit the earth

· Be filled

· Shown mercy

· See God

· Called Sons of God

· Great rewards

· In good company

But do we really think that is what the message of our Master was all about? Is it about what we get?

Jesus doesn’t bury the lead. He begins with: Happy are and blessed are those.

Maybe it is about something that we have already achieved when we are not owned by the world.

After spending a year preaching the Proverbs, one thing is clear. If we follow the ways of the Lord we are blessed. Even if we are persecuted as we follow, we are still blessed.

Happiness is not something that we chase but something that we know.

The less we are anchored in the things of this world, the more happiness we know.

Some people say that Jesus turned the world upside down with the Sermon on the Mount. What if he was just turning it right side up again?

Amen.

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