The day began as any regular day for the crippled beggar. The man was positioned at his usual location at the temple gate called "Beautiful". This was a strategic location since the traffic was usually heavy during the three separate hours of prayer at the temple. People most likely would not pass him by without giving some sort of alms. The man has been crippled since birth, so naturally begging at this gate was a daily routine for most of his adult life. He just needed enough money every day so he could get by. Maybe he wondered if someone would just give him a large chunk of change maybe things could be a little bit better someday.
Unbeknownst to him things were going to change this day. The Apostle Peter and John were walking to the temple at about 3:00 in the afternoon and they came upon this crippled man. As the beggar looks up at the Apostle (probably anticipating some sort of monetary gift), Peter says, “I have no silver or gold." These are words the crippled beggar probably did not want nor does he expects to hear. Peter continues, “…but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
The Apostle takes the man by the hand and immediately the crippled man “jumped to his feet and he began to walk.” At this very moment he did something he has never done before in his life. He was walking on his own, without the help of others! He began to run and jump and praise God for this miracle. When the onlookers saw the man walking, jumping and praising God they were all filled with wonder and amazement.
I don’t think it would be wrong to say the crippled man got more than he was expecting that day. What began as a regular day; no different than any other, he was hoped to get some spare change from people who felt sorry for him but ends up healed of a lifelong handicap. In the morning money was all he sought. By the afternoon he was able to walk. The man now knew true happiness and joy.
This brings me to the point of today’s devotion... TRUE happiness. As Spirit-filled believers we should be the happiest people on earth. Why is that? Where does our source of true happiness come from? What does TRUE happiness look like? These are good questions.
Happiness does not come from material possessions. It does not come from temporal things like money, power, status or possessions. Happiness, true happiness, comes from something else. I believe if we were able to go back two thousand years and interview the crippled beggar he would not say, “Well on the day I was healed but realy all I wanted was some money. I wish those guys would have just given me money instead.” After this miracle I bet he could have cared less about money because what he found this day was far greater than a few coins of silver and gold.
Oftentimes happiness is found in the simpler things in life. The crippled beggar found that true happiness is found in those things that you least expect (in this case divine healing and a relationship with God) and it doesn’t involve silver and gold to bring him happiness.
The word "happy" is often interchanged with the word “blessed” in the Bible. One of the best passages on true happiness is found in the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:3 – 11.
The key word Jesus uses is “blessed” or "happy." Thus a happy or truly happy person is …
Vs. 3: One who is poor in spirit. Now I know a lot of you may hear the words poor and automatically have a negative response. How could anything to do with poverty make a person happy? Well Jesus isn’t referring to finances here. A person who is poor in spirit is a person who is consciously and completely dependant on God. When individuals understand that there are things in life that are out of their control and there is a God who is in control should bring abundant joy and happiness to them. Our source of joy or happiness will come in knowing that we are children of the Most High God and we are be partakers in His Kingdom.
Vs. 4: The person who mourns. What?! How can sadness bring happiness? When we are able to see the hopelessness and sadness in the worlds rejection of Christ, the sins of humanity, evil and destruction it should cause great distress to those of us who believe. It should cause us to weep and cry for those who are lost. Yet in our sadness and grief we know that there will be a day when we will be comforted by Jesus himself and he will wipe away every tear.
Vs. 5: The meek person. The person who is humble and has chosen to live a life in finding satisfaction in the simple things is truly happy. Some of the happiest people I have met have very little to nothing but the clothes on their back and their relationship with Christ and this is enough for them. This is not to say that only the destitute and poor are happy. It refers to those who are content with a simple life.
Vs. 6: Those who hunger and thirst after God. True happiness and lasting satisfaction is only available in God. This does not mean people and even things can’t bring a sense of happiness to us, it’s just that they will not be the source of our full and sustaining joy and happiness. Those who desire to grow closer to Him and seek their pleasure, joy and happiness in Jesus Christ will truly and ultimately be satisfied, content and happy in life.
Vs. 7: Those who show mercy and compassion. Those who are truly compassionate are the ones who are truly happy. Their life is encapsulated in serving, helping and loving others and not in self promotion.
Vs. 8: The pure in heart. Those who have a genuine and authentic love for others and for God can know happiness to its full extent. Those who are the real deal are happy. They do not hide behind a veil or mask of false happiness. They truly are those who love God genuinely and have a real and transparent relationship with Jesus Christ. Their heart truly belongs to their God and Savior.
Vs. 9: The peacemakers. Those individuals who make peace and seek the good of the kingdom and desire unity over division are set for a joyous life. A peacemaker is one who desires over anything else God’s will and His Kingdom purposes. It is a man or woman who knows this world is not their home and peace is coming on the day God establishes his kingdom here on earth.
Vs. 10: The one who is persecuted for righteousness sake. This can only come by a Spirit-filled God centered life. The one who does not take a stand for God or is ashamed of his relationship is one who will be tossed around like the winds of the sea. This person cannot live a life of peace and happiness because they live a wishy washy life. Those who are persecuted for their faith should rejoice because they are counted worthy of persecution. I don’t think this implies that you will be constantly happy during trials and tribulations but know that joy (from Jesus) comes after the dark period of life.
We all want to have happiness in our lives, family, church, community etc. Happiness is a good thing. I truly believe God wants us to be happy. However, He desires to be the source of our happiness and calls us to true joy through his Son Jesus Christ. Nothing this world has to offer can bring a lifelong lasting happiness. Craig Groeschel writes, “When we believe the things of this world will provide happiness, we’re settling for a counterfeit.” Counterfeit happiness is just what it sounds like; a false sense of happiness. I see this false and empty happiness among young people and adults alike; they are searching for happiness in someone or something just to find out there is no sustaining happiness in either.
These individuals go looking for ways to make themselves happy in things that cannot bring happiness. So often we tell God what WE NEED (like a little more money, a new car, understanding parents, a new job, a bigger house etc.) but He knows what we really need for happiness and these things will not bring true sustaining happiness. We may think that silver and gold will make us happy, but when we see that God has far greater things for us (eternal life, His Spirit, gifts of the Spirit etc.), it is exceedingly more valuable than anything we could ever imagine.
So where are you today in your quest for happiness? Are you pursuing a counterfeit happiness that is unfulfilling and driving a wedge between you and God? Are your pursuits of counterfeit happiness damaging relationships, hurting those around you, or causing you to be in full rebellion with God? Or is your source of happiness found in something other than yourself, someone or something else? Can you honestly say, “I am happy because my happiness is founded in Jesus Christ and living for His Kingdom.”
I pray you can.