The Deception of Happiness

Happiness-Hands1We all want it. Most of our lives are focused on attaining it. Is it possible that we are guaranteeing a life of deep dissatisfaction (unhappiness) if happiness is what we are pursuing?

In Matthew 5, known as “The Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus is making some really counter-cultural claims about what it means to be happy.

Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Very few would identify happiness with being poor, mourning, meekness or hungering and thirsting. In fact these are exactly the things we work so hard to avoid for ourselves and our family! For many of us we associate happiness with a promotion, losing ten pounds, a sexually-fulfilling relationship, our kids doing well in school or sports.

What if all the cultural things we pursue to make us happy or fulfilled were an illusion? What if happiness or blessedness looked fundamentally different than we ever imagined?

“Happiness can never be found directly… happiness is always and only a by-product of seeking something else more than happiness… if you seek righteousness more than happiness, you’ll get both. If you seek happiness more than righteousness, you’ll get neither… the person who is happy is the one who has stopped trying to be so happy.” – Tim Keller, from a sermon called “The Search for Happiness.”

When Jesus tells us that ‘blessed are those who mourn’ he is pointing away from fleeting pleasures to the place where true eternal happiness resides; in himself. Here is the hard part. The happiness Jesus is talking about is only attained through death and pain. Death of self. The pain of giving up my way of doing things, my insistence that my pleasures rule my life.

I would encourage you to read through Matthew 5 and prayerfully consider how you are going about seeking fulfillment, satisfaction and happiness.

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