Jesus on Happiness

Did you know Jesus gave a sermon on happiness? That may come as a surprise to you because sometimes his followers can be critical and judgmental.

You may also be thinking, “If Jesus gave a sermon on happiness why haven’t I ever heard of it?” There is a good chance you have, but you didn’t know it was about happiness because of the evolution of the English language.

Originally, when the New Testament was translated from Greek into English “happy” was synonymous with “blessed.” Of course, no one thinks like that today. Instead, when we hear blessed we think…divine favor (#blessed)…holy (the Pope blessed it)…or to praise someone. So while it may be historically consistant to translate “blessed” for “happy” it isn’t clear for us modern readers.

We see this in other words. For example, the word “gay” use to mean “happy.” Over time the word has evolved instead to refer to someone’s sexual orientation. So while you may be historically accurate to say, “I’m feeling gay today.” You are going to confuse your friends and family about what you are really trying to communicate.

When we read Jesus’ sermon that starts off with “Blessed are the…” we aren’t really sure what He means, but whatever He is trying to say it sounds better than being cursed.

If it (makarios) was translated more accurately to our current vocabulary we would read, “Happy are the…” Now that changes everything. I want to lean in. I want to go back and re-read what Jesus says makes someone happy.

I hope that you will go back and re-read it (Matthew 5:3-10). Today, I want to look at just one of the things Jesus says makes someone happy because we don’t see a lot of it in our current culture.

What makes someone happy?

Showing mercy to others.

“Happy are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” –Matthew 5:7

The problem with mercy is that the only time you need to give it is when someone has hurt you or harmed you. You don’t have to extend mercy because it’s within your rights to get even or seek retribution. But Jesus is making us aware that we have a choice.

What Jesus says is counter-intuitive because we think getting even and seeing justice served would make us happy. Jesus is saying it won’t make you happy. Making them pay, making them hurt like you hurt won’t make your hurt go away. Instead you just end up resentful and bitter.

Have you ever met a happy bitter person?

Of course not and that is exactly what happens the longer you try to bring about “justice.”

Jesus is saying people are going to hurt you intentionally and unintentionally and he wants you to choose mercy. Mercy when they don’t deserve it. Mercy when it’s hard…because that’s the true pathway to happiness.

Some of the people you are trying to get even with are clueless that they even hurt you and you’ve been plotting revenge for months. You can’t sleep. You can’t even remember the last time you laughed…the last time you were happy. Your lack of mercy is keeping you from happiness.

We hesitate showing mercy because we think we are letting them off the hook. You may be letting them off your hook, but remember they are still on God’s hook.

Jesus makes you a promise that if you will show mercy to others, mercy will be shown to you. I don’t know about you, but I need lots of mercy. I want to make sure that when my day comes people can reach back into their memory bank and pull out several examples of when I showed them mercy.

By refusing to extend mercy you burn the very bridge you will need to walk across one day.

It reminds me of the political commentators who make a living out of not being merciful and inevitably a day comes where they need a little mercy but they aren’t shown any. They reaped exactly what they have sown.

I believe God brought you here today to read this to tell you to show mercy. The happiness you are looking for isn’t found on the other side of revenge. It’s found in being merciful. Let it go…now.

Maybe you are dreading Thanksgiving because you are going to see someone who hurt you. Show them mercy. Don’t let it steal your happiness any longer. You’ll have a much happier…life.

One day you’ll need mercy and you’ll be so glad you were a person who gave it.

Jesus didn’t just teach on mercy, He modeled it…

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”