Theme: Pursuit of Happiness
From this week’s lessons, we see that genuine happiness is found, not where the world assumes it to be, but in imitating the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12
There are a number of ways by which people try to obtain happiness. One man thinks that the way to happiness is through wealth. So he sets his financial goals on a hundred thousand dollars. He gets his hundred thousand, but he is not happy. He sets his goals higher. He thinks he will be happy if his net worth rises to a million dollars. He gets that and starts on his second million, or his third. John D. Rockefeller was asked how much money is enough. He answered, “Just a little bit more.” A person’s desperate pursuit of money indicates that he or she is searching for something, but it also shows that money does not satisfy one’s desires. A Texas millionaire said, “I thought money could buy happiness. I have been miserably disillusioned.”
A second man thinks that he will find happiness through power, so he goes into politics. He runs for a local counsel seat and wins the election. Immediately, even before he takes his seat, he thinks of becoming mayor. If he succeeds as mayor, he turns his eyes to the governor’s mansion. At last he wants to be president. Power does not satisfy. One of the world’s great statesmen once said to Billy Graham, “I am an old man. Life has lost all meaning. I am ready to take a fateful leap into the unknown.”
Another person thinks the path to happiness is that of sexual liberation. So he divorces his wife, or she divorces her husband. The person enters the swinging singles scene where life consists of weekday “happy hours,” Friday night cocktail parties, and overnight weekends in the country. If a partner gets boring or possessive, there is always another. CBS once did a television documentary on the swinging singles lifestyle in California, interviewing one single woman after another. The women said, “All the men want to do is get in bed with you. I’ve had enough of this to last me a lifetime.”
People think they can be happy by strengthening their bodies or straightening their noses.
People believe they can become happy by writing a best-selling book or by catching the attention of the masses through the entertainment medium. Fame brings a sense of euphoria for a time, but it is short-lived. The atheist Voltaire was one of the most famous men in Europe in the eighteenth century. But as he lay dying he is reported to have cried out to his doctor, “I am abandoned by God and man. I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months more life.”
According to Jesus, happiness consists in a reorientation of life by His standards. These standards seem contrary to our way of thinking, as they inevitably must because of Jesus’ holiness and our sin. But they are the secret—the secret to becoming a happy person.
What other things do people pursue to try to achieve happiness? How is each one challenged by the Beatitudes?
In what does true happiness consist?
Reflection: What honestly makes you happy? How closely does your answer match Jesus’ teaching in the Beatitudes?