Key to Happiness and Harmony - The Sermon on the Mount
Happiness, harmony, peace! Wouldn't it be nice to have the key that assures us of finding and keeping these qualities of life? There's so much today that tries to interfere with happiness and harmony—terrorism, drought, racial tensions, stress, school problems, lack of career opportunities, loss of health care, etc.
Jesus has already given us the key. It's in the Sermon on the Mount, which is a collection of his profound teachings (Matt 5-7). Jesus starts out by explaining how to be happy: "Happy are those who know their need for God, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs!" (5:3 Phillips).
That's a pretty awesome beginning. If we start by knowing our need for God, we will be happy. This "poor in spirit" saying is the beginning of the Beatitudes—an attitude of a blessed life.
Other attitudes that create and reveal happiness include:
- meekness—the ability to "endure injury with patience and without resentment" (Webster)
- mercy—"compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender" (Webster)
- hunger for goodness
- purity ("pure in heart")— "unmixed…free from harshness or roughness and being in tune…containing nothing that does not properly belong" (Webster)
- peacemaking—actively making peace, "reconciling parties who are at variance" (Webster)
In the rest of the Sermon, Jesus gives us more keys to peace:
- Be the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world" (5:13, 14). Share the joy of the Christ spirit.
- Don't get angry. Don't even think angry thoughts. Anger hurts. Settle your differences with others peaceably.
- Be faithful in your marriage vows. (Back then, all a man had to do to divorce his wife (for any reason) was to say, "I divorce you" three times. So Jesus was really trying to protect women and to keep men faithful.)
- Keep communication clear, simple, and honest.
- Give to others.
- "Love your enemies" (5:44).
- Pray sincerely and quietly, not publicly for outward appreciation. Then he gave an example of a prayer that begins with "Our Father" (6:9). That "our" is key. It's not your Father, my Father, his Father, or her Father; it's "our" Father.
- Make sure your real treasures are spiritual, not material. Put your trust wholly in God.
- Choose to serve God. You certainly can't serve two masters effectively.
- Don't worry. Don't worry about your looks. Don't worry about your next meal, the latest fashion, where your supply is going to come from, etc. God takes care of everything about you and everything for you. God supplies every single need, be it big or little.
- "Do not judge" (7:1). The way you judge others is the way you'll be judged.
- Ask…seek…knock, and God will answer your call, for God loves to give all "good things to those who ask him" (7:11).
- "Treat other people exactly as you would like to be treated by them" (7:12 Phillips). This is the Golden Rule for a reason.
- Realize that the road leading to the understanding of eternal life is not always easy; it takes work.
- Be aware of temptations (which can come in many forms) that would try to lead you away from God.
We have the keys to happiness, harmony, and peace right at our fingertips. Now, what are we going to do with them? Jesus addressed the same issue: "These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life…. They are foundational words, words to build a life on" (The Message, Matt 7:24). If we just talk about these words, we've built our life on the sand. But if we actually do what Jesus tells us, we've built our life on the rock, on God's foundation, and nothing can shake us.
This doesn't mean life will be easy. Storms will beat. Winds will blow. But our happiness, harmony, and peace are firmly grounded in God and are lasting. We will weather the storms with a joy that is permanent.