Uncovering Happiness 2.
Poverty and mourning
Matthew 5:1-12New International Version (NIV)
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We are in the second week of our series called, “Uncovering Happiness: Finding Happiness in a Messed Up World” where we are looking at if it is possible to actually be happy in this world.
Last week we saw that yes it is however; this is only possible when we align ourselves with the Kingdom of God. Essentially, when we put ourselves under the right king (that being Jesus), we discover a state of blessedness; which literally meaning ‘fulfilled delight’!
You see church, the beatitudes are not a set of principles to put on; they are the defining characteristics of kingdom people; of someone who finds themselves in the Kingdom of God.
So, we should probably address how do I get into the kingdom? That is what we address tonight and next week; however, you will see that even the entering into the kingdom causes a blessedness if we understand what it is all about.
So when we look at the beatitudes we see that they are the start of a long sermon given by Jesus called the sermon on the Mount and the central message and core reality of the Sermon on the mount is the Kingdom of God. This is essential to understand if we are going to understand what the beatitudes are all about.
Now what we see is that the beatitudes are separated into two sections; the first four are how we enter into the kingdom of God and the last four are how we live out our new kingdom realities.
Tonight we are starting to look at how we enter the Kingdom. Essentially, how we enter the kingdom is found in the application of the first four beatitudes:
Poverty of spirit
Hunger and Thirsting for righteousness
Tonight we will look at poverty of spirit and mourning. We will unpack these are key characteristics of those who enter the kingdom.
So let’s dive in starting with poverty of Spirit;
The blessed poverty
Jesus starts the beatitudes with this statement; “blessed are the poor in Spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Essentially, if you want the kingdom of God; you want to have the king; you have to have a poverty of spirit.
So what is poverty of spirit?
Well, what would be the opposite of it? It would be boldness of Spirit; a can-do attitude; a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of spirit.
So, poverty of spirit is a person who accepts that they can’t do it! Which is a complete departure from our worlds view of things.
How many movies, books, talks etc, speak to our potential; how we are special, how if we simply believe in ourselves, “the power was in you the whole time” kind of attitude.
Now we love this kind of positive affirmation; however, I just want to ask if it actually works.
I love how the people who are telling us to just believe in yourself and follow your dreams are the 1 in a million people; when a celebrity tells you that you must just follow your dreams; recognize the disconnection of reality that is.
They are the less that one percent; I have seen far too many people; brilliant musicians go for the dream of becoming a star; and you know what they discovery; there are literally millions and millions of extremely talent musicians out there; all competing for a 1 in a million chance of becoming a star.
Luck and being in the right place at the right time with just the right sound all come together to make that star who then tells you to simply follow your dreams and don’t give up. It is literally the same as a lotto winner saying just don’t give up on your dreams; keep on buying that ticket!
You know that you have more chance of being struck by lightning twice that winning the lotto!
But you know; believe in yourself; follow your dreams… it will not lead to fulfilled delight! In fact, what I find amusing is these people who are telling you to follow your dreams; seem to be the most unfulfilled people in the world!
Why; because happiness is not found in believing in yourself; in picking yourself up and ‘just doing it’!
Even the exceptional among us have a profound fear that they are not good enough; that they don’t have what it takes. Why? Because deep down; we know that nothing less than perfection will do!
We all know, deep down, that we have messed up; we know that we actually cannot be good enough; especially for God! Therefore this ‘ I can do it’ attitude is a disconnect from what we deep down know is true.
And that is why the first reality of those who enter the kingdom is the realisation that, “you know what; I can’t do it.”, “I am not good enough.”
A person who has poverty of spirit says I can’t do it myself. I am going to live with my self-doubt.
Now you simply can’t do that on your own; the only way you can actually live with poverty of spirit is if you know you have someone who is going to do it for you.
Why, because someone who just says, I can’t do it; is not happy they are depressed; they have given up on life; not discovered its delight.
No, we need to realise that we cannot do it; yet there is someone who did! There is someone who has lived up to the perfect standard; that I know deep down is required. There is someone who not only lived a perfect standard, but then substituted himself so that His standard; his perfection could (through faith) become mine.
You see church; poverty of spirit is the recognition that “I am desperate! I cannot change, save, or fix myself; but Jesus can!
It is the profound realisation that “I am a sinner; and all my problems, whether psychological, social or philosophical are at their root sin problems.” And I am helpless to fix that!
Alcohol anonymous, one of the most successful recovery programs in the world, first two steps are:
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 2: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
The first reality and the most important reality of kingdom people is that they have given up on trying to fix themselves.
They have stop trying to be righteous, and have accepted that Jesus is their righteousness.
They have come to the realisation that, “I desperately need help.” And then they have rested in the fact that that help has come to them in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
So, fulfilled delight (happiness) is found in giving up on trying to be good enough; but the next reality protects us from falling into a worse despair; the despair of licentiousness. Of giving up on trying to be good enough and just following whatever I want.
What do I mean by this? Well let’s look at my second point the…
The blessed mourning
Until we are willing to accept the fact that our problem (the cause of all our despair and pain in this world) is actually sin, we will never escape our despair.
If we simply come to the realisation that I cannot do this on my own and yet never come to the place of mourning over our sins. We will never actually root out our despair, we will never overcome the cause of our unhappiness and discomfort in this life.
And I guess this reality is harder for us to swallow in the world we find ourselves, because so much of the undergirding narrative of our world is that you’re okay I’m okay.
We have been told since Rousseau and the Enlightenment of the 18th century that humanity is essentially good; that people are born essentially good and then through bad psychological experience, or bad education, upbringing, or choices we end up bad.
And so great thinkers have tried to deduce the cause of mans ‘problems’ since then, and have suggested; it is the class struggle, it is the education system, it is the fact that your parents didn’t hug you enough as a kid, it is your nutrition, etc., etc.
The problem here is that as soon as they overcome their idea of the root of evil, another one comes up. The class struggle in Russia with the rise of communism did not solve the problems in Russia, in fact the new communist government became worse than the problems that they were trying to overcome. Why? Because our problems are not external. Our errors are not thrust upon us, we are not turned bad; we start out that way.
Left to ourselves we will choose the wrong path. Evil is not out there, it is in our hearts; deeper that we are ever willing to accept.
And yet after two World Wars, countless horrors, the war on Terrorism and the bloodiest century known in our history; we still tell ourselves, essentially we are good.
A Christian recognises that things are bad, and they admit it is their sin that is the cause of that and they mourn at it.
Until you have mourned over your sins, you haven’t actually addressed the cause of your discomfort in this life; you haven’t addressed the source of your unhappiness.
Each and everyone of us has an underlying reality of guilt in our lives. Some of us have no idea where the source of that shame and guilt is coming from, so we tell ourselves, that we are not that bad, that we are okay people, that we might be bad, but we are not as bad as that person over there.
The problem is that our own hearts condemn us. Our own self-view condemns us. Most of us here (the more honest you are with yourself the more this is your reality) are terrified of being seen for the person we actually are.
And even if you are a “relatively” good person, you have lived a good life and have done that was expected of you, there is still this demand to be your own, to have it your way. And this works itself in judgementalism, in a nastiness that you know is not healthy etc.
We do not begin to heal, and we cannot begin to discovery happiness, until we have come to mourn over our sins.
And you know what Jesus says to us; Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Why will we be comforted; well our king did not come for the righteous and heathy, He came for the sick, for the sinners. It is only when we have recognised our sickness that we discover the wonder (the comfort) of our healer.
So our happiness, of fulfilled delight is rooted in our mourning over our sins.
So I want to leave you with some quick application of this tonight;
a )Know the root of your unhappiness; Sin
b )Know that you are unable to fix this
c )Know your King can and has fixed this 2000 years ago when He died in your place.
Again; the gospel of Jesus become the start and end of our fulfilled delight; for it fixes the real issues of our heart and discomfort in this life. It truly sets us free!