How Jesus’ Sayings Promote Happiness
“[Jesus] went up into the mountain; and . . . his disciples came to him; and he . . . began teaching them.”—MATT. 5:1, 2.
1, 2. (a) Under what circumstances did Jesus give his Sermon on the Mount? (b) How did Jesus begin his discourse?
IT IS the year 31 C.E. Jesus briefly interrupts his preaching tour of Galilee to observe the Passover in Jerusalem. (John 5:1) Returning to Galilee, he prays all night for God’s guidance in choosing 12 apostles. The next day a crowd gathers as Jesus heals the sick. With his disciples and others present, he sits down on a mountainside and begins teaching.—Matt. 4:23–5:2; Luke 6:12-19.
2 Jesus starts his discourse—the Sermon on the Mount—by showing that happiness results from having a good relationship with God. (Read Matthew 5:1-12.) Happiness is ‘a state of well-being ranging from contentment to intense joy.’ The nine happinesses that Jesus pronounced highlight why Christians are happy, and these sayings are as beneficial today as they were nearly 2,000 years ago. Let us now consider each of them.
“Those Conscious of Their Spiritual Need”
3. What does it mean to be conscious of our spiritual need?
3 “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (Matt. 5:3) “Those conscious of their spiritual need” realize that they are spiritually destitute and need God’s mercy.
4, 5. (a) Why are those conscious of their spiritual need happy? (b) How can our spiritual need be satisfied?
4 Those conscious of their spiritual need are happy, “since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” Accepting Jesus as the Messiah opened up for his early disciples the possibility of ruling with him in God’s heavenly Kingdom. (Luke 22:28-30) Whether we personally hope to be a joint heir with Christ in heaven or we look forward to everlasting life in an earthly paradise under Kingdom rule, we can be happy if we are truly conscious of our spiritual need and are fully aware of our dependence on God.
5 Not all are conscious of their spiritual need, for many lack faith and do not appreciate sacred things. (2 Thess. 3:1, 2; Heb. 12:16) Ways to satisfy our spiritual need include diligent study of the Bible, zealous activity in the disciple-making work, and regular presence at Christian meetings.—Matt. 28:19, 20; Heb. 10:23-25.
Mourners Who Are “Happy”
6. Who are “those who mourn,” and why are they “happy”?
6 “Happy are those who mourn, since they will be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4) “Those who mourn” are the same kind of people as “those conscious of their spiritual need.” They do not mourn in the sense of complaining about their lot in life. Their mourning is sadness over their own sinful state and the conditions existing because of human imperfection. Why are such mourners “happy”? Because they exercise faith in God and Christ and are comforted by having a good relationship with Jehovah.—John 3:36.
7. How should we feel about Satan’s world?
7 Do we individually mourn because of the unrighteousness rampant in Satan’s world? How do we really feel about what this world has to offer? The apostle John wrote: “Everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father.” (1 John 2:16) But what if we sense that our own spirituality is being eroded by “the spirit of the world,” the impelling force that dominates human society alienated from God? Then let us pray fervently, study God’s Word, and seek the help of the elders. As we draw closer to Jehovah, we will “find comfort” for ourselves, regardless of what is causing us distress.—1 Cor. 2:12; Ps. 119:52; Jas. 5:14, 15.
How Happy “the Mild-Tempered Ones”!
8, 9. What does it mean to be mild-tempered, and why are mild-tempered ones happy?
8 “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5) “Mildness of temper,” or meekness, does not suggest weakness or hypocritical gentleness. (1 Tim. 6:11) If we are mild-tempered, we will display meekness by doing Jehovah’s will and accepting his guidance. Mildness of temper will also be evident in the way we deal with fellow believers and others. Such meekness harmonizes with the apostle Paul’s counsel.—Read Romans 12:17-19.
9 Why are the mild-tempered ones happy? Because “they will inherit the earth,” said mild-tempered Jesus. He is the principal Inheritor of the earth. (Ps. 2:8; Matt. 11:29; Heb. 2:8, 9) However, mild-tempered “joint heirs with Christ” share in his inheritance of the earth. (Rom. 8:16, 17) In the earthly realm of Jesus’ Kingdom, many other meek ones will enjoy everlasting life.—Ps. 37:10, 11.
10. How may a lack of mildness affect our privileges of service and our relationship with others?
10 Like Jesus, we should be mild-tempered. But what if we are known for having a belligerent spirit? Such an aggressive and hostile attitude may cause people to shy away from us. If we are brothers desiring to have responsibilities in the congregation, this trait disqualifies us. (1 Tim. 3:1, 3) Paul told Titus to keep reminding Christians in Crete “not to be belligerent, to be reasonable, exhibiting all mildness toward all men.” (Titus 3:1, 2) What a blessing such mildness is to others!
They Hunger for “Righteousness”
11-13. (a) What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? (b) How are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness “filled”?
11 “Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled.” (Matt. 5:6) The “righteousness” that Jesus had in mind is the quality of doing what is right by conforming to God’s will and commandments. The psalmist said that he was “crushed with longing” for God’s righteous judicial decisions. (Ps. 119:20) Do we prize righteousness so much that we hunger and thirst for it?
12 Jesus said that those hungering and thirsting for righteousness would be happy because they would be “filled,” or fully satisfied. This became possible after Pentecost 33 C.E., for Jehovah’s holy spirit then began to “give the world convincing evidence concerning . . . righteousness.” (John 16:8) By means of the holy spirit, God inspired men to compile the Christian Greek Scriptures, which are so beneficial “for disciplining in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16) God’s spirit also enables us to “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness.” (Eph. 4:24) Is it not comforting to know that those who repentantly seek forgiveness of their sins on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice can attain a righteous standing with God?—Read Romans 3:23, 24.
13 If we have an earthly hope, our hunger and thirst for righteousness will be fully satisfied when we enjoy everlasting life under righteous conditions on earth. Meanwhile, let us be determined to live in harmony with Jehovah’s standards. Jesus said: “Keep on . . . seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33) Doing that will fill our hands with godly work and our heart with true happiness.—1 Cor. 15:58.
Why “the Merciful” Are Happy
14, 15. How can we show mercy, and why are “the merciful” happy?
14 “Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy.” (Matt. 5:7) “The merciful” are moved by compassion and pity for others. Jesus miraculously relieved the suffering of many because he had pity for them. (Matt. 14:14) Mercy is manifested in a judicial sense when people forgive those who transgress against them, just as Jehovah mercifully forgives repentant ones. (Ex. 34:6, 7; Ps. 103:10) We can show mercy in that way and by our kind words and deeds that bring relief to disadvantaged individuals. A fine way to show mercy is to share Bible truths with others. Moved with pity for a crowd, Jesus “started to teach them many things.”—Mark 6:34.
15 We have reason to agree with Jesus’ statement: “Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy.” If we treat others mercifully, they are likely to respond in kind. We may find that the mercy we have shown to others will triumph over any adverse judgment that God might otherwise bring to bear against us when we are brought into judgment. (Jas. 2:13) Forgiveness of sins and eternal life are only for the merciful.—Matt. 6:15.
Why “the Pure in Heart” Are Happy
16. What does it mean to be “pure in heart,” and how do those possessing that quality “see God”?
16 “Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God.” (Matt. 5:8) If we are “pure in heart,” purity will be evident in our affections, desires, and motives. We will display “love out of a clean heart.” (1 Tim. 1:5) Being inwardly clean, we will “see God.” This does not necessarily mean seeing Jehovah literally, for “no man may see [God] and yet live.” (Ex. 33:20) Since he perfectly reflected God’s personality, however, Jesus could say: “He that has seen me has seen the Father also.” (John 14:7-9) As Jehovah’s worshippers on earth, we can “see God” by observing him act in our behalf. (Job 42:5) For anointed Christians, seeing God reaches its apex when they are resurrected to spirit life and actually see their heavenly Father.—1 John 3:2.
17. Being pure in heart will have what effect on us?
17 Because a pure heart is morally and spiritually clean, it does not dwell on things that are unclean in Jehovah’s eyes. (1 Chron. 28:9; Isa. 52:11) If we are pure in heart, what we say and do will have the mark of purity, and there will be nothing hypocritical about our service to Jehovah.
“The Peaceable” Become Sons of God
18, 19. How do “the peaceable” conduct themselves?
18 “Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’” (Matt. 5:9) “The peaceable” are identified by what they will do and by what they will not do. If we are the kind of people whom Jesus had in mind, we are peaceable and ‘do not render injury for injury to anyone.’ Instead, we ‘always pursue what is good toward others.’—1 Thess. 5:15.
19 The Greek term rendered “peaceable” at Matthew 5:9 literally means “peacemakers.” To be included among the peaceable, we must actively promote peace. Peacemakers do not do anything that ‘separates those familiar with one another.’ (Prov. 16:28) As the peaceable, we take positive steps to “pursue peace with all people.”—Heb. 12:14.
20. Who are now “sons of God,” and who else will eventually become God’s offspring?
20 The peaceable are happy because “they will be called ‘sons of God.’” Faithful anointed Christians have been adopted by Jehovah and are “sons of God.” They already have an intimate relationship with Jehovah as his children because they exercise faith in Christ and wholeheartedly worship “the God of love and of peace.” (2 Cor. 13:11; John 1:12) What about Jesus’ peaceable “other sheep”? They will have Jesus as their “Eternal Father” during his Millennial Reign, but at its end he will subject himself to Jehovah and they will become children of God in a complete sense.—John 10:16; Isa. 9:6; Rom. 8:21; 1 Cor. 15:27, 28.
21. How will we act if we are “living by spirit”?
21 If we are “living by spirit,” peaceableness will be one of our qualities that is readily seen by others. We will not be “stirring up competition with one another” or “provoking . . . each other.” (Gal. 5:22-26; New International Version) Instead, we endeavor to be “peaceable with all men.”—Rom. 12:18.
Happy Though Persecuted!
22-24. (a) What accounts for the happiness of those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake? (b) What will we consider in the next two study articles?
22 “Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (Matt. 5:10) Expanding on this, Jesus added: “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.”—Matt. 5:11, 12.
23 Like God’s prophets of old, Christians expect to be reproached, persecuted, and lyingly spoken against—all “for righteousness’ sake.” By faithfully enduring such tests, however, we have the satisfaction of pleasing and honoring Jehovah. (1 Pet. 2:19-21) Our suffering cannot diminish our delight in serving Jehovah now or in the future. It cannot lessen either the happiness of ruling with Christ in the heavenly Kingdom or the joy of being granted everlasting life as one of the earthly subjects of that government. Such blessings provide evidence of God’s favor, benevolence, and generosity.
24 There is much more to learn from the Sermon on the Mount. Various lessons are considered in the next two study articles. Let us see how we might apply those sayings of Jesus Christ.
How Would You Answer?
• Why are “those conscious of their spiritual need” happy?
• What accounts for the happiness of “the mild-tempered ones”?
• Why are Christians happy even though they are persecuted?
• Which happiness pronounced by Jesus especially impresses you?
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The nine happinesses that Jesus highlighted are as beneficial today as they were then
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A fine way to show mercy is to share Bible truths with others