true happiness part 2: don't look after number one

Jesus defines true happiness very differently to how we might expect (read part 1 here)

Matthew 5:5
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth

To be meek is to be gentle, humble, not pursuing our own agenda, putting others interests before our own. Meekness is not weakness. Moses was the greatest leader in Jewish history but Numbers 12:3 describes Moses as the meekest man on the face of the earth! The context of that statement is Moses refusing to defend himself in the face of accusations but instead relying on God.  Meekness is the opposite of self-centredness. It grows out of the first two statements Jesus makes in Matthew 5 - when you recognise your spiritual poverty and take your sin seriously, you will be meek.

Conventional wisdom does not suggest that happiness is found in being meek. If you want to inherit the earth, if you want to achieve happiness and satisfaction, surely you've got to look out for number one? Surely you've got to aggressively pursue your own agenda because, if you don't look after yourself, who else will? Jesus says the opposite is true. True satisfaction, true happiness and true joy comes to the person who has been humbled by their own brokenness and thrown themselves on God's mercy. That sets us free to do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Satisfaction is the elusive goal that motivates us all. A wife, a husband, a different wife, a house, a different car, a job, a promotion, a reputation, more money, more power, more sex, more comfort, more control - these are the things we chase because we think that, when we have got them, we will be satisfied. But when they are achieved they leave us hungry for more.

Jesus says that those who will be satisfied are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness. This is not people who want to appear righteous to gain approval from others or God, but people who have recognised they have no righteousness of their own and they are totally dependent on God. This does not describe people who have a passing interest in theology or a vague belief in God but those who hunger and thirst for God. People who know they need God's word like they need bread, who know they need the Spirit like they need water. This is not Christianity as an beneficial add-on to life - it is life itself.