“Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!”—PS. 144:15.
1. Why are Jehovah’s worshippers a happy people? (See opening picture.)
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES certainly are a happy people. Their meetings, assemblies, and social gatherings are characterized by the pleasant sound of joyful conversations and laughter. Why are they so happy? The main reason is that they know, serve, and strive to imitate Jehovah, “the happy God.” (1 Tim. 1:11; Ps. 16:11) Being the Source of happiness, God wants us to be happy, and he gives us many reasons to rejoice.—Deut. 12:7; Eccl. 3:12, 13.
2, 3. (a) What is happiness? (b) Why might it be a challenge to be happy?
2 What about you personally? Are you happy? Can you increase your happiness? Happiness may be defined as “a state of well-being that is characterized by relative permanence, by emotion ranging from mere contentment to deep and intense joy in living, and by a natural desire for it to continue.” The Bible shows that true happiness refers to the condition of one who is blessed by Jehovah. In today’s world, though, being happy may be a challenge. Why?
3 Stressful events—such as when a loved one dies or is disfellowshipped or when faced with a divorce or the loss of a job—can rob us of happiness. Domestic strife and a breakdown in peaceful communication can erode our sense of well-being. Ridicule by workmates or classmates, religious persecution, or imprisonment can undermine our happiness. So can deteriorating health, chronic illness, or depression. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ, “the happy and only Potentate,” delighted in bringing comfort and happiness to people. (1 Tim. 6:15; Matt. 11:28-30) In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus identified a number of qualities that can contribute to our happiness despite distressing trials in Satan’s world.
STRONG SPIRITUALITY—FUNDAMENTAL TO HAPPINESS
4, 5. How can we gain and maintain happiness?
4 The first thing that Jesus focused on is especially important: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (Matt. 5:3) How do we show that we are conscious of that need? We do so by taking in spiritual food, cherishing spiritual values, and giving priority to worshipping the happy God. If we take those steps, our happiness will grow. We will strengthen our faith in the coming fulfillment of God’s promises. And we will be encouraged by “the happy hope” that God’s Word provides for true worshippers.—Titus 2:13.
5 Building a strong relationship with Jehovah is a vital part of finding lasting happiness. The apostle Paul was inspired to write: “Always rejoice in the Lord [Jehovah]. Again I will say, Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4) To enjoy such a precious relationship, we need to acquire divine wisdom. God’s Word states: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who acquires discernment. It is a tree of life to those who take hold of it, and those who keep firm hold of it will be called happy.”—Prov. 3:13, 18.
6. Our lasting happiness depends on what?
6 However, to be lastingly happy, it is vital that we not only read God’s Word but apply it. Confirming the importance of putting into practice what we learn, Jesus said: “If you know these things, happy you are if you do them.” (John 13:17; read James 1:25.) This is the key to satisfying your spiritual need and being lastingly happy. But how can we be happy when there is so much that can rob us of happiness? Let us examine what Jesus next said in the Sermon on the Mount.
QUALITIES THAT ENHANCE HAPPINESS
7. How can those who mourn be happy?
7 “Happy are those who mourn, since they will be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4) Some may wonder, ‘How is it possible for those who mourn to be happy?’ Jesus did not have in mind all who mourn for any sort of reason. Even wicked people bemoan the distressing difficulties that characterize these “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Tim. 3:1) But their self-centered mourning does not draw them closer to Jehovah; hence, it does not lead them toward happiness. Jesus must have had in mind people who are conscious of their spiritual need and therefore mourn the appalling spiritual conditions that prevail. They may recognize their own sinful state and the heartbreaking circumstances that have resulted from human sinfulness. Jehovah takes note of such sincere mourners; he comforts and blesses them with spiritual consolation, happiness, and life.—Read Ezekiel 5:11; 9:4.
8. Explain how being mild-tempered contributes to happiness.
8 “Happy are the mild-tempered, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5) How can being mild-tempered contribute to happiness? After coming to an accurate knowledge of the truth, individuals change. At one time, they may have been harsh, quarrelsome, and aggressive. But now they have clothed themselves with “the new personality” and display “the tender affections of compassion, kindness, humility, mildness, and patience.” (Col. 3:9-12) As a result, they now enjoy a peaceful, loving, and happier life. Furthermore, God’s Word promises that such ones will “inherit the earth.”—Ps. 37:8-10, 29.
9. (a) In what sense do the mild-tempered “inherit the earth”? (b) Why can “those hungering and thirsting for righteousness” be happy?
9 In what sense do the mild-tempered “inherit the earth”? Jesus’ spirit-anointed disciples inherit the earth when they rule over it as kings and priests. (Rev. 20:6) Millions of others who do not have the heavenly calling, however, will inherit the earth in the sense that they will be allowed to live here forever in perfection, peace, and happiness. These are the same ones who are happy because of “hungering and thirsting for righteousness.” (Matt. 5:6) Their spiritual hunger and thirst for righteousness will be fully satisfied in the new world. (2 Pet. 3:13) When God has finally eliminated all wickedness, the happiness of righteous ones will never again be undermined by lawlessness and unrighteousness.—Ps. 37:17.
10. What does it mean to be merciful?
10 “Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy.” (Matt. 5:7) A Hebrew verb associated with mercy means “to glow, to feel warm with tender emotion; . . . to be compassionate.” Similarly, the Greek verb includes the sense of feeling sympathy for someone else. However, mercy is more than a tender feeling. In the Bible, it includes the active manifestation of pity by an act of mercy.
11. What can we learn about being merciful from the illustration of the neighborly Samaritan?
11 Read Luke 10:30-37. Jesus’ illustration of the neighborly Samaritan vividly portrays what it means to show mercy. Moved by heartfelt compassion and mercy, the Samaritan took positive action to bring relief to the suffering victim. After relating the illustration, Jesus said: “Go and do the same yourself.” Hence, we might ask ourselves: ‘Am I doing the same? Am I doing what the compassionate Samaritan did? Could I more actively display mercy and engage in positive deeds of kindness toward those who are suffering? For instance, could I offer practical help to older fellow Christians, widows, and those who are spiritually fatherless children? Can I take the initiative to “speak consolingly to those who are depressed”?’—1 Thess. 5:14; Jas. 1:27.
12. How does being merciful contribute to our happiness?
12 How, though, does being merciful result in happiness? When we display mercy toward others, we enjoy the happiness that results from giving. Moreover, we know that we are pleasing Jehovah. (Acts 20:35; read Hebrews 13:16.) Regarding a person who shows consideration, King David said: “Jehovah will guard him and keep him alive. He will be pronounced happy in the earth.” (Ps. 41:1, 2) Giving expression to our feelings of compassion will also put us in line to receive Jehovah’s mercy, which in turn can result in our being eternally happy.—Jas. 2:13.
WHY “THE PURE IN HEART” ARE HAPPY
13, 14. What is the relationship between a pure heart and happiness?
13 “Happy are the pure in heart,” Jesus said, “since they will see God.” (Matt. 5:8) To keep our hearts pure, we must be clean on the inside and nurture chaste affections and desires. We need to keep our thoughts clean so as to be spiritually untainted in our devotion to Jehovah.—Read 2 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Tim. 1:5.
14 Those who are pure in heart can enjoy a clean and happy standing before Jehovah, who declared: “Happy are those who wash their robes.” (Rev. 22:14) In what sense do they “wash their robes”? Anointed Christians “wash their robes” in that they are clean in Jehovah’s eyes and will be granted immortal life and enjoy endless happiness in their heavenly position. The great crowd who hope to live on earth can also enjoy a righteous standing as friends of God. They are even now ‘washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb.’—Rev. 7:9, 13, 14.
15, 16. How can the pure in heart “see God”?
15 How, though, do the pure in heart “see God” when, in fact, “no man can see [God] and live”? (Ex. 33:20) The Greek word rendered “see” can carry the sense of “to see with the mind, to perceive, know.” Those who see God with ‘the eyes of the heart’ are those who have really come to know him, appreciating his qualities. (Eph. 1:18) Jesus perfectly reflected God’s personality, so he could say: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father also.”—John 14:7-9.
16 In addition to getting to know God’s qualities, true worshippers can “see God” by observing the way he acts in their behalf. (Job 42:5) They also focus ‘their eyes of the heart’ on the wonderful blessings that God holds out for those who strive to remain pure and to serve him loyally. Of course, resurrected anointed ones will in a literal sense see Jehovah when they receive their heavenly reward.—1 John 3:2.
HAPPY DESPITE DIFFICULTIES
17. What role does peace play in being happy?
17 Jesus next said: “Happy are the peacemakers.” (Matt. 5:9) Those who take the initiative to make peace have good reason to be happy. The disciple James wrote: “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peaceful conditions for those who are making peace.” (Jas. 3:18) When we have a strained relationship with someone either in the congregation or in the family, we can plead for God’s help to be peacemakers. Thus, Jehovah’s holy spirit, righteous conduct, and happiness can predominate. Jesus emphasized the importance of taking the initiative to make peace when he said: “If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away. First make your peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift.”—Matt. 5:23, 24.
18, 19. Why can Christians rejoice even if they are persecuted?
18 “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake.” What did Jesus mean? He went on to say: “Rejoice and be overjoyed, since your reward is great in the heavens, for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.” (Matt. 5:11, 12) When the apostles were beaten and commanded to stop preaching, “they went out from before the Sanhedrin, rejoicing.” Of course, they did not relish the pain of being whipped. Yet, they rejoiced “because they had been counted worthy to be dishonored in behalf of [Jesus’] name.”—Acts 5:41.
19 In our time, Jehovah’s people also endure with joy when they suffer in behalf of Jesus’ name or when they face difficult trials. (Read James 1:2-4.) Like the apostles, we do not take delight in any kind of suffering. But if we maintain our integrity to God during trials, Jehovah can help us to endure with fortitude. For example, in August 1944, authorities in a totalitarian regime sent Henryk Dornik and his brother to a concentration camp. However, the opposers acknowledged: “It is impossible to persuade them to do anything. Their martyrdom brings them joy.” Brother Dornik explained: “Although I had no desire to be a martyr, suffering with courage and dignity for my loyalty to Jehovah did bring me joy. . . . Fervent prayers drew me closer to Jehovah, and he proved to be a reliable Helper.”
20. Why are we happy to serve “the happy God”?
20 When we have the smile of approval of “the happy God,” we can be happy despite religious persecution, opposition at home, sickness, or advanced age. (1 Tim. 1:11) We also experience happiness because of the precious promises of our God, “who cannot lie.” (Titus 1:2) The fulfillment of Jehovah’s promises will be so impressive that the difficulties and trials of the present time will pale into insignificance. In the coming Paradise, the blessings from Jehovah will surpass our imagination. And we will certainly experience unprecedented happiness. Yes, we “will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:11.