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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Happy Life




Matthew 5: 1-12 contains some of the most thought-provoking, challenging words in all of the gospels.  In these few verses Jesus hands us the keys of happiness.  Jesus identifies the virtues that produce a blessed life.  Yet, with such a treasure house to be unlocked and with the keys in hand we may at times still struggle to find the lock.  

Jesus is presenting the principles that make for happiness.  People are not happy because they are looking in the wrong places for it.  For the unbeliever we should not be surprised but for us who know the Lord there is no excuse.  The tendency is to think we know what will make us happy, this is often not true.

There are three general issues related to this passage that we must consider in order benefit from the key chain we have been handed.  The passage contains a series of paradoxes and a series of promises.  the master key that brings the promise to bear on the paradox is the little word "for".


First the paradoxes.


 Paradox – A tenet or proposition contrary to received opinion; a sentiment seemingly absurd or contradictory; that which in appearances and language is absurd, but yet true in fact.


What is related in these short statements are contrary to received opinion and seemingly absurd and contradictory.


Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Blessed are they that mourn.
Blessed are the meek.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst.
Blessed are the merciful.
Blessed are the pure.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
Blessed are they which are persecuted.
Blessed are ye when men shall revile you.

In practice we often reject the premises set forth here as improbable.  We find ourselves in a quandary being taught to yield to the Word of God yet believing these words of God to be impractical.  As much as anything it reveals our lack of faith and the fact that we assess the Word of God from a carnal perspective.  Unfortunately such a perspective hinders us from seeing and accepting spiritual realities.


Now the promises:


Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

They shall be comforted.
They shall inherit the earth.
They shall be filled.
They shall obtain mercy.
They shall see God.
They shall be called the children of God.
Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Great is your reward in heaven.

There are two potential problems here.  1. We miss the promise not being able to negotiate the paradox.  2.  We focus on the promise to the exclusion of the paradox.  The promise must be viewed in connection with the paradox.  Could it be we want the promises on our own terms?


The master key "for".


It is the word “for” that ties the paradox to the promise.  In fact it is the word “for” that removes the mystery of the paradox.


Blessed for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed for they shall be comforted.
Blessed for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed for they shall be filled.
Blessed for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed for they shall see God.
Blessed for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed for great is your reward in heaven.

We are happy because of the promise.  The rub comes when it is revealed what behavior/attitude procures the promise.  Happy, not because the pursuit is pleasant but because the reward is to be desired.


Who wants the kingdom of heaven?

Who wants to be comforted?
Who wants to inherit the earth?
Who wants to be filled?
Who wants to obtain mercy?
Who wants to see God?
Who wants to be called the children of God?
Who wants a great reward in heaven?

Then you must understand these spiritual realities.  The process may be painful but the fruit will be sweet.  It is important to understand the source of happiness. 


We are not happy because we are poor in spirit but because ours is the kingdom of heaven.

We are not happy because we mourn but because we shall be comforted.
We are not happy because we are meek but because we will inherit the earth.
We are not happy because we hunger and thirst but because we shall be filled.
We are not happy because we are merciful but because we will be shown mercy.
We are not happy because we are pure but because we shall see God.
We are not happy because we are peacemakers but because we shall be called the children of God.
We are not happy because we are persecuted but because ours is the kingdom of heaven.
We are not happy because we are reviled but because great is our reward in heaven.

The question is, are we willing to do what is required to claim the promise?  The promises are conditional.