Happiness has become a lifetime goal for many. However, few people experience lasting happiness. What do the Beatitudes teach us about real happiness?
The average person living in a developed nation today enjoys a level of comfort and security unknown to those who lived in prior centuries. Compared to individuals living in poorer countries, people living in the more affluent nations have access to a wealth of resources, utilities, opportunities, conveniences and services.
But has prosperity brought peace and happiness? Feelings of frustration, emptiness and dissatisfaction run high in the world. Why do people who have so much feel so discontented?
Along with seeking happiness, people want a peaceful life. The quest for peace, happiness and well-being fostered the self-help movement. Many people have been helped by adding exercise, relaxation and positive thinking to their lives. Others have found temporary excitement or relief in stimulants and depressants. But neither self-help nor drugs and alcohol can tap into the source of real happiness.
The spiritual component
There is a spiritual component to happiness that has been overlooked by many people. Our Creator provided an instruction book for life, the Holy Bible. Here God explains the dimension that is missing in human knowledge—the spiritual element.
Jesus founded the New Testament Church on Himself and the Bible—God’s Word. His teaching is a religion of love and of law. It has a spritual component, the Holy Spirit, which is the presence and power of God.
Christianity includes emotions, such as love, joy and concern for others; and it includes rules—the law of God, as explained by Christ and the apostles. But the ultimate goal of Christianity is not happiness. It is something greater!
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ discussed spiritual traits of character in the Beatitudes, nine verses that start with the word blessed (Matthew 5:3-11).The goal of an individual Christian is transformation (conversion) of the mind—to become a new creation who thinks and lives the same way Jesus Christ did. Jesus explained the spiritual traits of character that produce a state of joy that persists apart from and in spite of circumstances.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ discussed spiritual traits of character in the Beatitudes, nine verses that start with the word blessed (Matthew 5:3-11). The Greek word makarios, which is translated blessed, means to be “supremely blest; by extension, fortunate, well off—blessed, happy, (happier)” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, #3107).
The true path to happiness
A feeling of personal adequacy and self-worth is not necessary to experience the happiness that Christ described. In the first of the Beatitudes, Christ said that the “poor in spirit” are blessed because “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Why would those who are humble and without any self-importance find happiness that often eludes the wealthy and self-confident?
Those who are poor in spirit have no illusions of pride and self-importance. They recognize their personal inadequacy and human frailty. They relate to God as dependent beings, looking to Him as the Source of all things. They put their confidence and trust in God, not in themselves or others.
The other Beatitudes
- 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 (Matthew 5:4-11).
In each of the Beatitudes, Christ gives the outcome of what a certain spiritual trait will produce. For those who mourn, Christ says they will be comforted. (According to Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, “This is capable of two meanings: either, that those are blessed who are afflicted with the loss of friends or possessions, or that they who mourn over sin are blessed.”)
Those who are meek (humble) will inherit the earth. Those who hunger after righteousness will be filled. Those who are merciful will obtain mercy. Those who are pure in heart will see God. Those who are peacemakers will be called the sons of God.
The source of real spiritual power
None of us can fill the emptiness and the discontent that manifests itself as unhappiness. That void is God’s place to fill, and we can’t meet it with something else, at least for any length of time. We can’t generate lasting happiness nor can we find it in some outside circumstance. We must acknowledge that the Creator is the source of all good things and go to Him.
Those who turn to God in humility and repentance begin a journey to the Kingdom of God and eternal life. They learn God’s way of life: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Having the spiritual traits of character described in the Beatitudes will allow us to experience blessedness and happiness now and forever.
For more information on how you can have these traits in your life, be sure to read the articles in this section on Change. And if you have questions, we have trained ministers who will be pleased to send you a personal answer. Just click on the “Ask a Question” link at the bottom of this page to send us a message. We look forward to hearing from you.