The word blessed means “happy.” It has the significance of being fortunate or filled with good. God wants His people to be happy and teaches us how to be so. In the world, personal happiness is of great value and often pursued at all costs.
Blessed at All Costs
It is often in the pursuit of happiness itself that many people stumble. This is true of Christians and non-Christians alike. The difficulty comes not from the desire for happiness, but in HOW many try to obtain it. Though many recognize that they need God to be happy, they end up seeking Him with purely selfish motivations. As James wrote, “you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2-3).
We long so much for the feeling of happiness that we purse it with unbridled selfishness. With every step we take we long to satisfy some hunger or desire that always seems to elude us. We reason that if we just pursue it a little further, take that next step to satisfy our longing, then we will find happiness. “If I only had _______, then I would be happy.”
Eventually, with our eyes fixed firmly on our personal gratification, we begin to neglect and eventually shed our obligations to those around us: to our friends, to our families, even to God. We give them a back seat to our own personal fulfillment. We may be willing to make sacrifices for the people closest to us for a time, but eventually we reason, in the noblest tone we can muster, “I have served others for so long. Now it is time to take care of me.”
Abandoning those who love us, we trek through life turning over every stone that looks like it might satisfy the lingering emptiness. Every so often the question comes to mind, “Should I be doing this?” But we quickly stifle it with, “God wants me to be happy. I am drawing closer to God by pursuing my own desires.”
Following this course their entire lives, many reach the end of their days on this earth never finding what they were looking for. Then, in a single terrible moment, they are faced with the realization that they have lost all hope of eternal, spiritual blessedness.
“The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:22-23).
“‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:19-21).
Only when it is too late do many finally realize that their selfishness desire for happiness was the very obstacle keeping them from being truly blessed.
Blessedness In Christ
Jesus Christ shows us a better way. In the Beatitudes He chisels away at the illusion of happiness that enthralls so many. He affirms that God does indeed want us to be happy, but He leads us to the great epiphany that true blessedness can only be obtained by those willing to abandon the pursuit of it. It is obtained, not through physical and emotional stimulus, but by obtaining these spiritual qualities.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It is in the pursuit of self-fulfillment that many turn away from God (though some deceive themselves into thinking their desires are in line with God’s will.) Jesus reveals that blessedness is obtained by the opposite means. A man must first recognize that he is a sinner, and that his only hope of happiness is in emptying himself and seeking God.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” In the pursuit of happiness, pain and sorrow are often avoided at all costs. Jesus reveals that we must be willing to embrace a sense of sorrow. The sorrow that leads to blessedness is not one forced upon us by circumstances beyond our control. It is a sorrow we experience by choice. It is a grief experience by those who, having emptied themselves, come to the full realization of the effects of their sins. They are moved to tears by bitter shame and grief. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted” (2 Cor. 7:10).
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Contrary to the pursuit of self-pleasure, meekness involves a gentleness and littleness of self which enables one to receive correction and instruction without retaliating. Many reject God and His word because they feel it cannot make them happy. Others still try to add to, take away from, or otherwise alter God’s word in order to justify their own personal pleasures. Meekness does not allow either. The meek are those who are willing put on God’s word and seek His will in everything. They are blessed, not because their every desire is fulfilled, but because their joy is in the Lord.
Do you want to be happy? Do you want to obtain a sense of fulfillment? Jesus Christ has the answer. Set aside selfish ambitions. Turn to God in poorness of spirit. Acknowledge your sins. Embrace God’s word. Blessed are those who do these things.