Happy Servants of Jehovah
“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.”—MATTHEW 5:3.
1. What is true happiness, and what does it reflect?
HAPPINESS is a precious possession of Jehovah’s people. The psalmist David exclaimed: “Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!” (Psalm 144:15) Happiness is a feeling of well-being. The deepest happiness—reaching to the very depths of our being—comes from the awareness that we are blessed by Jehovah. (Proverbs 10:22) Such happiness reflects a close relationship with our heavenly Father and the knowledge that we are doing his will. (Psalm 112:1; 119:1, 2) Interestingly, Jesus enumerated nine reasons for which we can be counted happy. An examination of these so-called happinesses, or beatitudes, in this and the following article will help us to realize how happy we can be if we faithfully serve “the happy God,” Jehovah.—1 Timothy 1:11.
Awareness of Our Spiritual Need
2. On what occasion did Jesus speak about happiness, and what was his opening statement?
2 In 31 C.E., Jesus delivered one of the most famous discourses of all time. It is called the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus gave it on a mountainside overlooking the Sea of Galilee. The Gospel of Matthew relates: “When [Jesus] saw the crowds he went up into the mountain; and after he sat down his disciples came to him; and he opened his mouth and began teaching them, saying: ‘Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.’” Translated literally, Jesus’ opening words read: “Happy the poor ones (as) to the spirit,” or “Happy are those who are beggars for the spirit.” (Matthew 5:1-3; Kingdom Interlinear; footnote) Today’s English Version reads: “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.”
3. How does a humble disposition contribute to our happiness?
3 In his hillside sermon, Jesus pointed out that a person is far happier if he is aware of being in need spiritually. Humble Christians, fully aware of their sinful condition, beg Jehovah for his forgiveness on the basis of Christ’s ransom sacrifice. (1 John 1:9) They thus find peace of mind and true happiness. “Happy is the one whose revolt is pardoned, whose sin is covered.”—Psalm 32:1; 119:165.
4. (a) In what ways can we show awareness of our spiritual need and that of others? (b) What adds to our happiness when we are conscious of our spiritual need?
4 Awareness of our spiritual need moves us to read the Bible daily, to absorb spiritual food dispensed “at the proper time” by “the faithful and discreet slave,” and to attend Christian meetings regularly. (Matthew 24:45; Psalm 1:1, 2; 119:111; Hebrews 10:25) Love for neighbor makes us aware of the spiritual need of others and prompts us to be zealous in preaching and teaching the good news of the Kingdom. (Mark 13:10; Romans 1:14-16) Sharing Bible truths with others brings us happiness. (Acts 20:20, 35) Our happiness is further deepened when we meditate on the wonderful hope of the Kingdom and the blessings that Kingdom will bring. For the “little flock” of anointed Christians, the Kingdom hope means immortal life in heaven as part of Christ’s Kingdom government. (Luke 12:32; 1 Corinthians 15:50, 54) For the “other sheep,” it means everlasting life on a paradise earth under that Kingdom government.—John 10:16; Psalm 37:11; Matthew 25:34, 46.
How Mourners Can Be Happy
5. (a) What is meant by the expression “those who mourn”? (b) How are such mourning ones comforted?
5 The words of the next happiness that Jesus mentioned seem contradictory. He said: “Happy are those who mourn, since they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) How can a person mourn and at the same time be happy? To understand the meaning of Jesus’ statement, we need to consider what sort of mourning he is speaking about. The disciple James explains that our own sinful state should be a cause for mourning. He wrote: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you indecisive ones. Give way to misery and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves in the eyes of Jehovah, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:8-10) Those who are truly saddened over their sinful state are comforted when they learn that their sins can be forgiven if they exercise faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice and show true repentance by doing Jehovah’s will. (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 7:9, 10) They can thus have a precious relationship with Jehovah and entertain the hope of living forever to serve and praise him. This brings them deep inner happiness.—Romans 4:7, 8.
6. In what sense do some mourn, and how are they comforted?
6 Jesus’ statement also includes those who mourn because of the detestable conditions that prevail in the earth. Jesus applied to himself the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1, 2, which states: “The spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, . . . to comfort all the mourning ones.” That commission also applies to anointed Christians yet on earth, who carry it out with the help of their companions, the “other sheep.” All share in the work of symbolically marking the foreheads of “the men that are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done in the midst of it [apostate Jerusalem, picturing Christendom].” (Ezekiel 9:4) Such mourning ones are comforted by the “good news of the kingdom.” (Matthew 24:14) They are happy to learn that Satan’s wicked system of things will shortly be replaced with Jehovah’s righteous new world.
Happy Are the Mild-Tempered Ones
7. What is not meant by the term “mild-tempered”?
7 Jesus continued his Sermon on the Mount by saying: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) Mildness of temper is sometimes thought to imply weakness of character. However, that is not the case. Explaining the sense of the word translated “mild-tempered,” one Bible scholar wrote: “The supreme characteristic of the man who is [mild of temper] is that he is the man who is under perfect control. It is not a spineless gentleness, a sentimental fondness, a passive quietism. It is a strength under control.” Jesus stated about himself: “I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) Yet, Jesus was courageous in defending righteous principles.—Matthew 21:12, 13; 23:13-33.
8. To what is mildness of temper closely related, and why do we need this quality in our relationships with others?
8 Mildness of temper, then, is closely related to self-control. Indeed, mildness and self-control were listed together by the apostle Paul when he outlined “the fruitage of the spirit.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) Mildness of temper must be cultivated with the help of the holy spirit. It is a Christian quality that makes for peace with outsiders and with those in the congregation. Paul wrote: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely.”—Colossians 3:12, 13.
9. (a) Why is being mild-tempered not limited to our relationship with other people? (b) How do the mild-tempered ones “inherit the earth”?
9 Mildness of temper is, however, not limited to our relationship with other humans. By willingly submitting ourselves to Jehovah’s sovereignty, we demonstrate that we are mild-tempered. The prime example in this regard is Jesus Christ, who while here on earth manifested mildness of temper and complete submission to his Father’s will. (John 5:19, 30) Jesus preeminently inherits the earth, for he is its appointed Ruler. (Psalm 2:6-8; Daniel 7:13, 14) He shares this heritage with 144,000 “joint heirs,” chosen from “among mankind” to “rule as kings over the earth.” (Romans 8:17; Revelation 5:9, 10; 14:1, 3, 4; Daniel 7:27) Christ and his associate rulers will govern millions of sheeplike men and women upon whom the prophetic psalm will find its happy fulfillment: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:11; Matthew 25:33, 34, 46.
Happy Are Those Hungering for Righteousness
10. What is one way in which those who ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness’ can be filled?
10 The next happiness outlined by Jesus when he was speaking on that Galilean hillside was: “Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) For Christians, Jehovah sets the standard for righteousness. Hence, those hungering and thirsting for righteousness in effect hunger and thirst for divine guidance. Such ones are keenly aware of their sin and imperfection and long for an acceptable standing before Jehovah. How happy they are when they learn from God’s Word that if they repent and seek forgiveness on the basis of Christ’s ransom sacrifice, they will be in a position to attain a righteous standing before God!—Acts 2:38; 10:43; 13:38, 39; Romans 5:19.
11, 12. (a) How do anointed Christians attain to righteousness? (b) How do the companions of the anointed have their thirst for righteousness filled?
11 Jesus said that such ones would be happy, since they would “be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6, Kingdom Interlinear) Anointed Christians called to “rule as kings” with Christ in heaven are declared “righteous for life.” (Romans 5:1, 9, 16-18) Jehovah begets them, thus adopting them as spiritual sons. They become joint heirs with Christ, called to become kings and priests in his heavenly Kingdom government.—John 3:3; 1 Peter 2:9.
12 The companions of the anointed ones are not yet declared righteous for life. However, they have a measure of righteousness credited to them by Jehovah through their faith in Christ’s shed blood. (James 2:22-25; Revelation 7:9, 10) They are accounted righteous as Jehovah’s friends in line for deliverance at the time of “the great tribulation.” (Revelation 7:14) Their thirst for righteousness will be further satisfied when, under the “new heavens,” they become part of the new earth in which “righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Peter 3:13; Psalm 37:29.
Happy Are the Merciful
13, 14. In what practical ways should we show ourselves to be merciful, and with what benefit to us?
13 Continuing his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) In a legal sense, mercy is understood to refer to clemency on the part of a judge who refrains from inflicting on a wrongdoer the full punishment allowed under law. As used in the Bible, however, the original words translated “mercy” refer mostly to an expression of kind consideration or pity that brings relief to those who are disadvantaged. Thus, those who are merciful are actively compassionate. Jesus’ illustration of the neighborly Samaritan provides a fine example of an individual who “acted mercifully” toward a person in need.—Luke 10:29-37.
14 To experience the happiness that results from being merciful, we need to engage in positive deeds of kindness toward those in need. (Galatians 6:10) Jesus felt compassion for the people he saw. “He was moved with pity for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. And he started to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34) Jesus realized that mankind’s greatest need was spiritual. We too can show ourselves to be compassionate and merciful by sharing with others what they need most—the “good news of the kingdom.” (Matthew 24:14) We can also offer practical help to older fellow Christians, widows, and orphans and “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Proverbs 12:25; James 1:27) Not only will this bring us happiness but it will also make us recipients of Jehovah’s mercy.—Acts 20:35; James 2:13.
Pure in Heart and Peaceable
15. How can we be pure in heart and peaceable?
15 Jesus outlined the sixth and seventh happinesses as follows: “Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God. Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’” (Matthew 5:8, 9) A pure heart is one that is not only morally clean but also spiritually untainted and unified in its devotion to Jehovah. (1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 86:11) The original-language word rendered “peaceable” literally means “peacemakers.” The peaceable live in peace with their Christian brothers and, as far as it depends on them, with their neighbors. (Romans 12:17-21) They “seek peace and pursue it.”—1 Peter 3:11.
16, 17. (a) Why are the anointed called “sons of God,” and how do they “see God”? (b) How do the “other sheep” “see God”? (c) How and when, in the fullest sense, will the “other sheep” become “sons of God”?
16 To the peaceable who are pure in heart, the promise is made that they “will be called ‘sons of God’” and “will see God.” Anointed Christians are spirit-begotten and are adopted by Jehovah as “sons” while still on earth. (Romans 8:14-17) When they are resurrected to be with Christ in heaven, they serve in Jehovah’s presence and actually see Him.—1 John 3:1, 2; Revelation 4:9-11.
17 The peaceable “other sheep” serve Jehovah under the Fine Shepherd, Christ Jesus, who becomes their “Eternal Father.” (John 10:14, 16; Isaiah 9:6) Those who successfully pass the final test after the Millennial Reign of Christ will be adopted as Jehovah’s earthly sons and “have the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21; Revelation 20:7, 9) In anticipation of this, they address Jehovah as their Father, since they dedicate their lives to him, recognizing him as their Life-Giver. (Isaiah 64:8) Like Job and Moses of old, they can “see God” with eyes of faith. (Job 42:5; Hebrews 11:27) With ‘the eyes of their heart’ and through accurate knowledge of God, they perceive Jehovah’s wonderful qualities and endeavor to imitate him by doing his will.—Ephesians 1:18; Romans 1:19, 20; 3 John 11.
18. In line with the first seven happinesses outlined by Jesus, who find true happiness today?
18 We have seen that those conscious of their spiritual need, those who mourn, the mild-tempered, those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peaceable find true happiness in serving Jehovah. Yet, such ones have always encountered opposition, even persecution. Does this mar their happiness? That question will be considered in the following article.
By Way of Review
• What happiness comes to those who are conscious of their spiritual need?
• In what ways are those who mourn comforted?
• How do we show mildness of temper?
• Why should we be merciful, pure in heart, and peaceable?
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“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need”
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“Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness”
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“Happy are the merciful”