I recently started a sermon series at my church in the Beatitudes. I first asked my congregation this question: “How many of you want to be happy?” Most of them raised their hands but a few did not. I repeated the question again, just to make sure everyone had heard me. Again, there were still some who did not raise their hands. I was flabbergasted by their response. Doesn’t every person want to have joy and happiness in their life?
Maybe some of them didn’t raise their hands because they were afraid to do so. Others might have been embarrassed by my question. Or maybe there were some who didn’t want others to see that they weren’t truly happy Christians at this point in their lives.
I can understand how they feel.
Believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I was not a very happy or joyful Christian. When I was in college, I was a grump. I knew I was born again by the Spirit of God but I didn’t have the happiness I saw in other Christians’ lives. My roommate Luke, for example, was a very happy-go-lucky person. He would often “torture” me by asking me over and over again, “Are you a happy person?” What was his secret to happiness?
I sought the answer in God’s Word, through prayer, and through a book titled, “Happiness is a Choice.” What I discovered was that my happiness was actually quite shallow. My happiness was based on obtaining material possessions, achieving academic status, relationships with people, and the circumstances of life. But those things were constantly changing! I needed something that could give me happiness consistently. I discovered the joy of the Lord could help me to be happy even in life’s ever changing circumstances.
You see, Jesus preached a happy, happy, happy, message in the Beatitudes. Over and over again Jesus used the word “blessed,” which has as one definition, “happy.” Happy are the poor in spirit. Happy are they that mourn. What a great message to the world and to Christians who are very unhappy!
But the happiness and blessedness Jesus talks about in the Beatitudes isn’t shallow. It has a deeper mean than we usually give the word, according the Reformation Study Bible. “It includes spiritual well-being, having the approval of God, and thus a happier destiny.”
We will never get anywhere in our search for happiness until we give up trying to find it by our own efforts. The secret to true happiness is found in loving Jesus and following Him all the days of your life. We will not find true joy and happiness until we find it in Him.
Justin Kinder is pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Braidwood, Ill.