Summary: A fact of human nature is that it's no necessarily what happens to us that matters as much as it is how we respond to adversity. Jesus taught that a merciful attitude is a sure way to experience contentment in this life.


The Beatitudes – Matthew 5:1-12

Everybody I know wants to be happy. However, it appears to me that some folks may not understand what true happiness is.

There are those, for example, who seem to think that lots of money would make them happy; yet, some of the wealthiest people in the world have said that fortune brought misery to their lives.

Others seem to think that if they could just be famous, they would be happy; yet, many famous folks come to the end of their way feeling unhappy due to loneliness and sadness.

Neither fame nor fortune brings true happiness to any individual. This is as true today as it was when Jesus preached a sermon about happiness during his ministry on this earth.

Times have changed, but the search for happiness is still one of our top priorities.

Perhaps we would do well to adopt as one of our main goals in life: To be happy and to make other happy.

One of the memories that I cherish of my father-in-law is the note that he wrote to himself and taped on the mirror into which he looked every morning when he shaved.

The note read:

“Thursday mornings

Go to nursing home

Make people happy.”

Whether in a nursing home or not, we all want to be happy. We want to wake up each morning with a reason for living yet another day . . . with an inward feeling of assurance that life is worthwhile . . . with no thought as to whether or not our needs are going to be met that day . . . with as bright an outlook on life as possible . . . with the hope that someone who needs a word of encouragement will cross our path that day; so, “Lord, help me to encourage someone today.”

My father-in-law discovered happiness by making others happy. He could not make people happy by giving them money; nor could he make them happy by offering them fame. He did so simply by going where there was a need for encouragement. Oftentimes all he had to offer was a smile, a handshake, or a pat on the back, without saying a word. His actions spoke, as if to say, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, give I thee.”

When Jesus saw a multitude of people searching for happiness, he had pity on them – and then, “He went up on a mountainside and sat down, and he began to teach them.”

“How to be Happy” was the theme of the first lesson Jesus taught in His “Sermon on the Mount”. Here was the Great Physician, taking time to sit down with those longing for a happy life, giving them a prescription consisting of eight components of the blessing of happiness.

Think of these eight components as noted minister-author Robert Schuler and my long-time friend Harmon Born, along with other respected servants of God have suggested: BE Attitudes – the person God wants me (us) to BE.

When a medical doctor prescribes an antibiotic, the patient is advised to take the entire dosage over a period of time in order to realize the full benefit of the prescription.

Jesus our Great Physician advises those who desire true happiness to incorporate all eight BE Attitudes into daily life if they (we) want to benefit fully from God’s Prescription for Happiness. Amen.


“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

One of my favorite sayings of Mark Twain is one with which I can identify. He is quoted as saying, “I’m an old man, and I have known many problems in my life, most of which never happened.”

Is it not true of most of us that we have known many problems in our lives? But is it not also true that many of the problems we worried so much about never happened?

The biggest cause of anxiety, for which many of us have been known to take medication, is more often than not due to worry about things we fear might happen, not things that actually do happen.

How I wish that somehow we could come to an understanding of the fact of human nature: It’s not what happens to me that matters most; it’s how I respond to what happens to me!”

You can be sure of this: If you have the attitude that you should forever be spared from all pain, hurt, and grief, you need to be reminded that someday you will be jolted with a shock of reality. Bad news, sorrow and rejection hit all of us at some point in our lives as if a psychological hand grenade exploded in our brain and we have to go through the slow process of extracting the fragments one at a time.

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