Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Wednesday Weekly Devotional

By Pastor Taylor Sexton


The Good Life

Matthew 5:1-12 (CSB)

When he saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then[a]he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the humble,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

11 “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. 12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The most popular class in the history Yale University is called, PSYC 157: Psychology and the Good Life. The course is designed to help college students find lasting happiness in their lives. One of the key takeaways from the course is that society has conditioned our brains to trick us into thinking the wrong things will make us happy. The professor of the course, Dr. Carrie Santos notes in her introduction to the course. “We’ll see that many things we think matter for our happiness-wealth, material possessions, and even good grades-simply don’t. In fact, recent studies suggest that these goals may even undermine our sense of wellbeing.” 

Friends, I wonder if we have been looking for happiness in all the wrong places. I don’t know about you, but for me sometimes it can feel like happiness is a shadow I can get close to but never hold onto. What I find in those times when I am feeling lonely or sad is that I am seeking happiness in the wrong place. I am comparing myself to others or thinking if I just had this or that then I would be happy. You could call this circumstantial happiness. It is the idea that, if my circumstances change (A raise, a bigger house, new car, long vacation) then I will be happy. These circumstantial things might provide temporary happiness, but they will never provide the lasting happiness we all so desperately seek. 

In Matthew 5 we find the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are eight blessings spoken by Jesus in the opening of the Sermon on the Mount. When we read the beatitudes what I think we will find are the keys to true in lasting happiness. In fact, when Jesus says, ”Blessed are those…” the word for blessed he uses is makarios, which literally translates to ‘happy’. As an exercise I want to encourage you to re-read the scripture above, but replace the word ‘Blessed’ with ‘Happy’. 

I think what each of us notices is that Jesus’ idea of who the happy people are doesn’t quite line up with who we may think the happy people are. I know some things on that list definitely wouldn’t make me happy on the surface. However, I think that if we look deeper we find that each of the blessings-being poor in spirit, mourning, humble, thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted because of righteousness- all of these blessings or attributes point us to the people God meant us to be and the people we can be when we entrust our life to Jesus and follow him. Each of the blessings Jesus speaks point us toward loving God, loving others, and loving ourselves. So I encourage you today to look for happiness in living out the Beatitudes and see how your life transforms and see how you might help someone else’s life transform through the love of Jesus.

Amen.

*If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health or feelings of depression we encourage you to reach out to a mental heath professional for guidance. You can also reach out to any of our pastoral staff for help, resources, and referrals to mental heath professionals.