The Pursuit of Happiness
Harvey J. Williams
The whole human race looks for happiness. Many search in vain in the wrong places and manner. Throughout the Bible we find with great frequency conditional promises of blessedness. In them the point is repeatedly made that true happiness consists in and is based upon a right relationship with the eternal and living God, not on material circumstances. Those who are most truly holy are the ones most truly happy.
Never have more people had more material gadgets than in our own land and time. But never have there been more discontented, maladjusted, and generally frustrated, befuddled and confused people, either. Ours is a society of anxiety and a world of worry. There will be improvement only by more of us learning that the blessed state of true happiness is not found in material circumstances, but in righteous character; nor in self-seeking, but in self-surrender to Christ Jesus; nor by material means, but by real and scriptural spirituality.
By a contrast of the negative with the positive, the Psalmist sets forth the requirements for blessedness, and then describes the happy results (Psalm 1:1-6). Wicked counsel must be rejected, the way of sinners and seat of scoffers avoided; delight and meditation in the Lord's law must be constantly and earnestly followed. This brings about the production of righteous fruit in its season and assures safety and security for time and eternity. "For the Lord knows (approves, has regard to) the way of the righteous; But the way of the wicked shall perish."
The Beatitudes (Matt. 5:1-12) are conditional promises of true happiness. They point to Pentecost and the ideal character and the righteousness of loyal citizens and subjects of the reign of heaven under Jesus Christ as King which began then. Seven distinct, and also distinctive, qualities and expressions of the wholeness of righteous character of Christians are contained in them. It is only in His kingdom, by the gospel plan of righteousness (Rom. 1:16,17) that a right relationship with God is possible, and this is, as we said before, the real basis of the blessed state of true happiness.
The beginning point in acquirement of the wholeness of righteous character in Christ by the gracious provisions of God is true humility. For only when one is fully convinced of his deep need to do so will he yield to the reign of Christ. Humility is the basic virtue and its opposite - arrogant pride the basic sin. Those who will Sanctify Christ as Lord in their hearts are first of all keenly aware that apart from Him they can do nothing, and of their absolute inability to direct their own steps. Verily, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
SECOND in the sequence of qualities, growing from and added with true humility is mourning for sin and the ruin it has wrought. Sorrow after a godly sort produces repentance unto salvation not to be regretted (2 Cor. 7:10). Jesus promises rest to those who are weary and heavy laden by sin, if they will take His yoke upon them, and become His disciples (Matt. 11:28-30). "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
THIRD: The meek (gentle) having an inner mastery of all faculties, not antagonistic toward God and His will, but strong therein, make proper use of life "under the sun" preparing for the eternal inheritance. "Blessed are the meek (gentle), for they shall inherit the earth. "
FOURTH: The gospel's promises in full measure are had by those whose healthy spiritual appetites for the righteousness revealed in it move them to meet its conditions. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
FIFTH: Those who have received God's mercy, and hope to continue to do so, will themselves be merciful. Wretched indeed is that one who harbors malice and grudges while he lives here below, and such unbecoming behavior will cause heaven's gate to be closed against him forever (Matt. 18:2335). From another aspect, the merciful of the fifth beatitude will have the same feeling of responsibility for spreading the gospel of God's tender mercies as did Paul (Romans 1:14). "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. "
SIXTH: Those whose hearts have been cleansed and made pure, freed from all contamination and distortion thinking straight, with pure motives and intentions - shall behold God with the eyes of understanding. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
SEVENTH: As children of the God of peace, following the Prince of peace, living by and working to advance the gospel of peace, citizens of the kingdom of peace are not rabble-rousing agitators of strife, but peacemakers. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
When the seven-fold excellency of character of the foregoing is found in anyone, he is righteous. Hostility of Satan and his forces of evil never cease toward righteousness, so the righteous will be persecuted for righteousness sake. But, in this too, the Lord pronounces such blessed, as theirs is the kingdom, they are placed in the excellent company of faithful prophets of old who were also persecuted, and finally, great is the reward in heaven.
Yes, the blessed state of true happiness consists in the right relationship to Almighty God. This is only possible in the Kingdom of Christ, and by submission to the gospel plan of righteousness. "Rejoice in the Lord, always; Again, I will ,ray, rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4).
Truth Magazine, XVIII:15, p. 6