A Practical Guide to True Happiness
1. (a) What kind of guide should we appreciate today? (b) Why is the Bible recommended as a guide?
ON A dark night, we are glad to have bright streetlights to show us our path. These can also help us to feel safe. Now, in the darkest time of the world’s history, surely we appreciate helpful guidance to light the way for ourselves and our families. And if we can have a guide that leads us to a gloriously happy future, we would indeed want to know about that guide! A wise man once addressed himself to God, saying:
“Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.” (Psalm 119:105)
God’s “word” is contained in the Bible. It is believed that you will find the Bible to be a wholesome, down-to-earth guide and help toward living a happy, meaningful life.
A BOOK THAT SOLVES PROBLEMS
2. What did a Hindu leader say about the practical value of the Sermon on the Mount?
2 The Bible can be of tremendous practical value to us. Many thinking persons have acknowledged this fact. As an example, there is the following report in Treasury of the Christian Faith by S. J. Corey concerning a conversation between the Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi and the former British Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin:
“Lord Irwin paid a visit to the Mahatma in his ashram. During the conversation Lord Irwin put this question to his host: ‘Mahatma, as man to man, tell me what you consider to be the solution to the problems of your country and mine.’ Taking up a little book from the nearby lampstand, Gandhi opened it to the fifth chapter of Matthew and replied, ‘When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries but those of the whole world.’ That from a Hindu!”
3. How may those who mourn become happy? (Isaiah 61:1, 2)
3 As an example of practical Bible teaching, let us consider part of this famous Sermon. It opens by showing the source of true happiness:
“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.
“Happy are those who mourn, since they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:3, 4)
In these perplexing times, many persons feel the need for food for the mind, to satisfy them spiritually. Many people mourn, feeling hurt at heart over the bad conditions in the world. Are you one of these? If so, you will become happy if you exert yourself to find out the reason for these critical days and what the hope for the future is. As you learn of that hope, your mourning will indeed turn to comfort.
4. What kind of persons may enjoy God’s blessing now, and in the future? (Psalm 24:4, 5)
4 Jesus’ Sermon continues with these words:
“Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.
“Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled.
“Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy.
“Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God.
“Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’” (Matthew 5:5-9)
In a world where there is so much violence, what a blessing it is to have mild-tempered persons around us! And when the entire earth is filled with such people, as the Bible assures us it will be, mankind will be truly happy. Do you not desire to see all the dishonesty, injustice and wickedness of today removed from the earth? Surely you do! You can be happy now, in pursuing righteousness as your way of life, and that happiness will overflow as you live to see God restore righteousness throughout the universe. Even in this difficult age, the merciful, the pure in heart and the peaceable can live a satisfying life, with God’s blessing. But this is only a foretaste of the happiness that will soon abound earth wide.
HAPPY IN TIMES OF TRIAL
5 By examining the “good news” you can be helped to have a bright, positive outlook, with real hope for the future. But some persons may oppose or mock you because of your learning the Bible. Is this a reason to stop your study of the Bible? No, for this would mean abandoning the only guide to happiness in these troublesome times. Jesus goes on to say in his Sermon:
“Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.
“Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
You will be happy because of having resisted such opposers, for you will progress toward living a purposeful, fruitful life, and toward an everlasting reward from God.
6. What kind of Bible study is recommended? (Deuteronomy 11:18, 19)
6 On the other hand, many who start to study the Bible find that others in their family, or among their friends, become interested in joining them. Why not suggest this to them yourself? It is a fine thing when a family shares together in Bible discussions. This can contribute greatly toward building a happy family.
7. Illustrate how study of the Bible can solve even serious family problems.
7 At times, the Bible has helped families in solving very serious problems, as the following report shows:
A man in the Philippines was a heavy drinker and gambler, smoked forty cigarettes a day and was developing a cancerous throat. Though he had nine children, his family rarely saw him. He spent most of his time and money in places of ill repute, though he was a nominal Christian. The family started to fall apart. But he was impressed by the humility and friendliness of Jehovah’s Witnesses when they called. First some of his children, and then the entire family, started to study the Bible. This man had to make strenuous efforts to rid himself of his unclean habits, but now he and seven other members of his family have dedicated their lives to God, while the entire family continues its Bible studies. Due to his giving up tobacco, his throat problem has cleared up. He is now a devoted family man. His relatives were amazed at his transformation, and many of them also became interested in Bible study.
If your family has a problem, it may not be as serious as this man’s. However, the Bible can be a marvelous influence for unity in your family, too.
TRUE NEIGHBOR LOVE
8. How does the Bible warn against wrong desire? (1 John 2:15-17)
8 Let us examine some other teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus probes to the root causes of the problems that afflict mankind. For example, in referring back to the Ten Commandments, he tells us:
“You heard that it was said, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27, 28)
So it is wrong desire that we must watch. If we cultivate such desire in our hearts, it will lead us on toward wrongdoing. How important, then, that we cultivate right desires, letting our minds and hearts dwell upon wholesome, upbuilding matters!
9. By following what example could mankind’s problems be solved? (Luke 6:35)
9 In Jesus’ day, there were those who taught, “You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But Jesus states it differently:
“However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
How unselfish—to seek even good things for our enemies! But note that this is in imitation of our heavenly Father and Creator, who provides bountifully for all who live on earth—even for wicked persons. If all mankind were to show such loving consideration for others, the problems of the whole world could indeed be solved!
10. Why should we not be anxious about daily needs? (Luke 12:15)
10 Farther on, the Sermon says:
“On this account I say to you: Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. Does not the soul mean more than food and the body than clothing? Observe intently the birds of heaven, because they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses; still your heavenly Father feeds them. . . . Take a lesson from the lilies of the field, how they are growing; they do not toil, nor do they spin; but I say to you that not even [King] Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. If, now, God thus clothes the vegetation of the field, . . . will he not much rather clothe you . . .? So never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.”—Matthew 6:25-32.
11 Here Jesus speaks of the normal concern we all have for food, clothing and shelter. We need these things to make us happy. However, “the nations” of mankind around us are often pursuing, not the needs, but the desires of man. In emphasizing selfish desire and pride in what men possess, this greedy world contributes to mankind’s unhappiness. Material possessions may bring some temporary enjoyment, but the way to true and lasting happiness is to “keep on . . . seeking first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) Does your own love of righteousness impel you to do this? It should. The Sermon on the Mount gives fine encouragement to this end.
TRUE GUIDANCE IN CRITICAL TIMES
12. (a) What foretold conditions do we see around us today? (b) But where can we find sound guidance? (2 Peter 1:19)
12 It is especially important to seek righteousness in these times in which we now live. When we look at the world around us, we observe how well it fits the following description by the apostle Paul:
“In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Paul says that these conditions will be here in the “last days.” And today, how obvious it is that human society is facing a day of reckoning! It goes rapidly from bad to worse. So where really may we look for guidance? Paul answers by calling attention to “the holy writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation,” and adds: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial.” (2 Timothy 3:15, 16) Our Creator, God, prepared “all Scripture” and preserved it for our benefit and encouragement in these “last days.”
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Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount sets forth teachings capable of ‘solving the problems of the whole world’
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Bible study helped to solve problems for this Filipino family; it can help you too
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Happiness comes when we imitate the loving God, who lets his sun shine on people of all kinds
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In these critical “last days,” we need the Bible’s guidance to survive