What would it take to make you truly happy? They asked that question of 52,000 Americans in Psychology Today. These were their answers: friends or social life; job; being in love; recognition and success; sex; personal growth; good financial situation; having a house or apartment; being attractive and beautiful; the city I live in; my religion; recreation and exercise; being a parent, marriage; your partner’s happiness.
The interesting thing about this is most of the attempts to find happiness were through external situations instead of internal. I would say that most Americans want to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is even an unalienable right for Americans, according to the Declaration of Independence. However, recent studies have found that only one in three Americans are happy.
In Matthew 5:2-12 Jesus teaches on what we call “The beatitudes.” The beatitudes refer to the eight “blessed are” statements in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The Greek word for blessed is “happy.” It is in this teaching that Jesus gives us the recipe for true happiness. In this teaching Jesus highlights the spirit of what God desires from His people. In giving the beatitudes, specifically, Jesus describes a character trait or action that, in human terms, is often not associated with happiness. As a matter of fact, everything Jesus says we need to make us happy is completely upside down when compared to what the world says will make us happy.
In the beatitudes Jesus shares with us that we will be happy if we possess these attitudes. I heard them put this way, “The Beatitudes are the attitudes that ought to be.” In other words, Jesus was saying “divinely happy are” those who possess these inward qualities. The first happy attitude Jesus shares is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” With this phrase, “poor in spirit,” Jesus was speaking of our spiritual condition of poverty—the recognition of our need for God. We come to the cross empty handed.
“The kingdom of heaven” refers to people who acknowledge God as their King – Christ as their Savior. They have a heart that longs for God. We live in times where people are struggling daily to find true happiness. Recent studies have found that 15 million Americans suffer from depression and fill 189 million antidepressant prescriptions annually. It plays a significant role in the 30,000 annual U.S. suicides. The cost of lost productivity, absenteeism, and suicide due to depression is estimated to be $83 billion a year.
I believe it’s time to get right side up in a world that is upside down and follow what Jesus teaches that develops true happiness. This Sunday at South Side we will begin an eight-week journey that teaches us how to find true happiness according to Jesus. You are invited to come out at 10:30 for a fresh cup of coffee, and to join us for worship at 10:45. We hope to see you and your family there!
South Side Church of Christ