Introduction: Most of my e-mails these days end with the closing
“Blessings.” Exactly what would you think this means? My thought is
to have God bless the person to whom I’m writing. But, that does not
answer the question: “What is a blessing?” What am I wishing on the
other person? When I looked at the Greek word translated “blessed,” I
found that it meant (according to Strong’s) “happy,” “fortunate,” and
“well off.” Would you like to be blessed? This week we turn our
attention to the wisdom of what Jesus was trying to teach us. Let’s
start with His teaching on how to be happy!
- Tell me what you think brings or would bring you
happiness? (Write them down.)
- Read Matthew 5:1-3. We are told that the first path to
blessings (happiness) is to be poor in spirit. This is not
on your list! Why not?
- The Greek word for poor in spirit means “crouching”
or “cringing.” This is how you might imagine an
honest beggar would come to ask you for money. Would
that attitude logically bring you happiness?
- What do you think is really being suggested as a road
to happiness when Jesus talks about the “poor in
spirit?” (The idea is that you come to Jesus
realizing that you are poor and naked and a beggar
spiritually. You say “God, I need You!” The people
who have this attitude towards God are fortunate,
happy, and blessed.)
- How would you suggest that a person most often comes
to this point of realizing that he is a beggar? (Some
of life’s toughest circumstances are a blessing
because they bring us to this point of realizing what
spiritual beggars we really are. I saw a poster which
said that we can forgive the unbelievable because
Jesus forgave the unbelievable things we have done!)
- What is the end result for the people with this
attitude in their spirit? ( Matthew 5:3 says these
people go to heaven! There is the ultimate blessing,
the ultimate happiness.)
- Read Matthew 5:4. This is not on your happiness list
either! Why not?
- The Greek word for “mourn” refers to intense
mourning. It goes beyond simple grief. Happiness and
mourning are opposites, right?
- How can we possibly be happy when we are intensely
mourning? Is mourning ever a good thing for you?
(There is a very interesting and unique story in
Ezekiel 9:1-5 that is a parallel to the final
judgment. The story tells of six warriors and a
scribe. The scribe goes about the city and writes a
mark on the forehead of all who “grieve and lament”
(NIV) or “sigh and cry” (KJV) or “sigh and groan”
(RSV) over the sins that are committed. Everyone
that does not have the mark is killed by one of those
six warriors. So surviving turns on whether you “sigh
and cry” about the sins that are committed.)
- Let’s see if we can put all this together. Matthew 5:3
talks about the poor in spirit. Matthew 5:4 refers to
those who realize that they are poor in spirit and are
truly concerned about it. Those who are comforted are
those who not only realize their need, but are sad about
this gulf between their character and perfection. We come
to Jesus as needy sinners. We mourn our failures. Our
soul yearns for forgiveness. Jesus comforts us with
forgiveness and the promise of eternal life. That puts a
smile on my face!)
- Read Matthew 5:5. Is meekness on your happiness list?
- A suggestion that I should be meek sure goes against
my grain. How about you?
- The Greek word means “mild,” and Strong’s suggests
that implies “humble.” Do you think that this really
means that we should be mild and humble? Would this
refer (gulp) to “real men” too?
- The philosophy of secular society is to bring
attention to ourselves. We say, “This is what we
have done.” “This is what we own.” “This is what we
think.” Just based on your knowledge of life, does
the statement “This is what I’ve done” pose any
problems? (It is like a public challenge. You have to
live up to what you say you can do. People will try
to knock you down.)
- I like to compete because I like to win! Do you like
to win? If so, do we get an exemption from the
mildness and humility requirement? (Jesus is
suggesting a different philosophy of life. He
suggests that we focus on God and His will and not
focus on us. The amazing and ironic thing about this
is that those who are not putting themselves first
will inherit everything–the whole earth! As the
“Purpose Driven Life” says, “It’s not about me, it’s
all about Him.”)
- Read Matthew 5:6. Is being hungry and thirsty on your
happiness list? (I know I could lose a little weight. But,
I’m never happy about being thirsty or hungry.)
- What to you think is meant by “hungering and
thirsting for righteousness?” (This presents a little
different angle on the idea of mourning because of
our sinful situation. We keenly want to have this
righteousness that Jesus gives.)
- Would you like to be righteous? (The text says that
these people who really want it will be filled with
- Read Matthew 5:7. Is mercy on your happiness list?
- How did you feel when you heard that Eliot Spitzer
(Governor of New York and former New York state chief
prosecutor) had been caught with prostitutes? This
was a man who terrorized the New York business
community with what some saw as ruthless prosecutions
on questionable matters.
- Did you smirk and say, “What a self-righteous
hypocrite!” (Some part of me smiled. At the same
time I realized what a horrible and hypocritical
attitude I had. I was gloating because of this
fellow’s sins when I, too, would be very embarrassed
were everyone to know of my sins. Who would be
willing to have their sins published on the front
page of the newspaper and on television and radio?)
- What attitude does Matthew 5:7 suggest that we have?
(We should be merciful.)
- What is the “down-side” if we do not have this
attitude? (Mercy will not be shown to us.)
- Friend, do you need mercy?
- Read Matthew 5:8. Is this on your happiness list?
- The word translated “heart” means the intellect, the
conscience. Do you think that being “pure in heart”
means that you are sinless?
- Why didn’t Jesus say “Happy are those who have pure
actions?” (This all gets back to my theory that
righteousness is a matter of attitude. It is our
motives and not our actions that are most important.
Jesus is looking for people who have attitudes such
as those we have discussed this morning. They may
not have perfect acts, but they have a pure
- We can often change our actions though determination.
How easy is it to change our attitude? (Only the Holy
Spirit can change our heart. The beatitudes leading
up to this one direct us in the path of a pure heart.
These are the steps to throwing ourselves on Jesus’
- Read Matthew 5:9. Is this on your list, making peace?
- Does this refer to those who get along in their
- How about those that help to resolve problems?
- Notice that it says that they are the children of
God. Let’s move down a few chapters in Matthew and
read Matthew 10:34. What should we conclude about
these two statements? Blessed are those who make
peace and blessed are those who make war? (It seems
obvious that Jesus is not talking about human to
human relationships. The reference that Christ makes
is to bringing men into harmony with God. Christ
came to show that God is not our enemy and that is
our task too.)
- Read Matthew 5:10-12. These verses talk more about what
happens to us rather than what kind of attitude we should
- Was this on anyone’s happiness list? I am most happy
when people insult me, persecute me and lie about me!
- How can you be happy in these circumstances? (There
is a war going on between Jesus and Satan. Jesus
says you can be happy during times like this because
you know that these insults mean you have membership
in the Kingdom of God!)
- As you think back about tough times, did it make you
better or bitter?
- Consider whether you faced tough times because of
“His sake” or because of something that you did.
- Friend, perhaps you need a new list of things that make
you happy. If you feel a deep, unfulfilled desire to be
happy, how about looking to the wise teachings of Jesus?
How about turning your life over to Him? Why not right
- Next Week: The Wonder of His Works.