Qualities of Genuine Happiness, Pt. 9
Study Guide, March 7, 2021
Pastor Clay Olsen
One of the children that lived in the Asmat village where Sharon’s family served for twelve years sharing the Gospel and serving this unreached people group, had a fascinating designation…or description of who he was. He was known as ‘the Peace Child’. He was actually from another village…another people group in Irian Jaya, with whom the Asmat had been at war. Sharon and her brother and sister all knew and played together with this ‘Peace child’. But these groups agreed to an arrangement whereby each would give one of their children to the other tribe, and as long as these children lived in their village, there would be peace between them.
Sharon’s Dad actually used their Peace Child as a powerful way to explain the concept of ‘Reconciliation’ to the Asmat people; of how Jesus was the Peace Child in a sense, in how we can no longer be at war with God because of our sins against God, but we can now have peace with God through Jesus Christ …which also involves our personal surrender and trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
But what an amazing picture of peace…this child grew up knowing that being a ‘Peace child’, or let’s call him a ‘peacemaker’, was his role and it was his goal. And the people also knew that you don’t want to mess with the ‘peacemaker’, because if they messed with the ‘peacemaker’ they would be messing up their own peace as well. Yeah, it could go very bad for them also.
Which all has some fascinating implications for the next quality of genuine happiness that we need to examine in our series that we have not yet concluded in the ‘Beatitudes’, or the ‘Be-happy-attitudes’ of the Sermon on the Mount. So let’s return and explore some more.
Oh, and by the way, or by way of reminder…it probably goes without saying, which usually means we’re going to say it anyway, right…but one really notable thing about the Beatitudes that Jesus taught about things like ‘Blessed are the…’ or ‘Happy are the…’ and so on, is that Jesus wasn’t giving options here – like, “And if you want to be really happy, here are some tips; like Happy are those who are humble, or who are meek, and Happy are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and those who are gentle and those who are pure…and so on. As in, if being happy is your thing, then here are some great suggestions to really top off your happiness…” No! The Beatitudes are not a list of options for believers to pick and choose from to see which ones might really help them with their happiness. It’s not a personal preference kind of thing, like if this kind of happiness is not the kind of thing you think you need, then you don’t need to get serious about being humble or meek or hungering for righteousness or being gentle and pure in your morals and such.
When we put it like this it sounds kind of odd, doesn’t it? But how common in practice is it that many believers live like these Beatitudes were just some suggestions by Jesus for us. But no, of course not. The Beatitudes are not suggestions on how to be happy. The Beatitudes are steps of obedience that God expects His children to act upon and practice in their life. And when they do, Jesus informs us that these very steps of obedience, these steps of Discipleship are also the very virtues that bring genuine happiness into the soul and spirit of the one who seeks to make these virtues his or her own daily priorities and habits! The Beatitudes precisely reveal just what our God is looking for in our obedience and faithfulness to Him as children of God.
And we really do need to emphasize this big time, because how many times do you hear people say in answer to the question: “So, what do you want out of life?” And they often say, “Oh, I just want to be happy.” As innocent as that sounds, it is also the exact opposite attitude to have and pathway to take to be happy, because that pathway is totally inwards. Whereas the pathway to happiness is totally upwards, as in foremost wanting to be faithful and obedient to God, who is the only source of genuine happiness, and of which He then bestows on those who are walking in paths of righteousness with Him.
“I just want to be happy.” Well, how are you going to get there? What path are you going to take to reach or experience ‘happiness’? Jesus says that ‘happiness’ is something that He grows in those who walk in paths of righteousness, which is the only path He leads us in walking anyway. And so Jesus gives us the markers or the sign-posts along the path to serve as identifying signs that we are on the right path. And those markers or sign-posts are what we call ‘The Beatitudes’.
Therefore, the right answer, or the righteous answer for a follower of Christ to the question of: “So, what do you want out of life?” is: “I just want to be faithful…I want to be found faithful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Faithfulness is the highest form of worship. And imitation is the highest form of compliment. And every one of these beatitudes that Jesus entrusted to us are the very attitudes and actions that were in Jesus, and thus, should be in us and shown through us. Again, the highest compliment, or praise, or expression of worship of Jesus is to seek to be like Him.
And we trust that this goal of being faithful and being found faithful to Jesus is the goal of every believer here and with us wherever you are. And when it is, then Jesus assures you that you will also find yourself on the very path where these birthright blessings of genuine happiness will become your daily experience, because these blessings are coming from Jesus Himself and He is the very source of genuine happiness.
But again, these steps are very precise. So let’s go to the next step that Jesus shows us to take in Matt 5:9- “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” NASU And let’s look again at that in the expanded and amplified Bible version. Matt 5:9- “Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous — with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!” AMP Expanded and amplified for sure! And then just one more in the New Living Translation: Matt 5:9- “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” NLT
We have a bunch to work with here and to work on, don’t we? But first, remember once more: Is Jesus suggesting that we be peacemakers? Nope! Being a peacemaker is not an option for a Disciple of Jesus Christ. It is one of the disciplines of Discipleship. So the question is: So, how do we now work on being a peacemaker, as Jesus expects of us? How in the world can you be a peacemaker in a world that seems to most value those things which are the opposite of peace, like; argument and strife and dissension and self-pride and self-promotion and grumbling and griping and such? Let’s look closer.
Being a peacemaker has two directions: Upwards and Outwards. But humanistic teachings start with going ‘Inwards’… or starts with things like, finding peace in your life…making peace with yourself…looking for some peace in your life. It’s always fascinating how people end up so far away from where God intended them to go just because they have taken small turns off of the path of righteousness. And by taking small turns off the path of righteousness they soon find that they are now far from where God intended them to go. For example, if only one word or one phrase is subtracted from what human philosophy has added to those statements, the focus becomes completely different, as well as completely beneficial and blessed, and takes you in a completely different direction: like ‘finding peace in your life’ becomes ‘finding peace in life’, and ‘making peace with yourself’ becomes ‘making peace’, and ‘looking for some peace in your life’ becomes ‘looking for some peace in life’… When you turn the focus off of ‘self’…off of ‘yourself’, you then free yourself from the burden of yourself, because you are neither the source nor the solution. The source and solution to peace is ‘outside’ of yourself. And, of course, the source and solution to peace has always been and always will be the ‘Prince of Peace’, Jesus Christ. Jesus, Himself, is our peace.
Now watch out for this subtle but serious distortion, because the world, the flesh, and the devil have always wanted people to think that ‘peace’ was a ‘product’, when the reality is that ‘peace’ has always been a ‘Person’. True peace is not something that man produces. No, true peace is something that God produces and then releases…releases into our life and releases through our life when we are in right relationship with our God. Mark it down: Being a ‘peacemaker’ is not being a peace producer, it’s being a ‘peace releaser’…just like a clear channel or an open pipe releases a flow of water onto a dry field. The pipe didn’t produce the water, it just released it onto the dry field in need of the water. The source of the water came from upstream, or from the fountainhead. All that the open pipe did was to allow the water to flow where it needed to go.
We tend to make being a peacemaker so daunting and so hard because we are so focused on trying to produce the peace ourselves, trying to make the peace ourselves, and trying to make others peaceable as well. Why, we can’t even make ourselves be peaceable! Why in the world do we think we can make others be what we can’t even make ourselves? No, a peacemaker doesn’t make the peace… a peacemaker is a person who ‘makes for peace’. It’s the same way that we could call a Branch on a Vine a ‘fruit-maker’. The Branch doesn’t actually make the fruit – what the Branch does is that it makes for fruit, by abiding in the Vine and then bearing the fruit which the Vine makes, since the Vine is both the source of the fruit and the producer of the fruit.
You see where we are going with this, right? In John 15:5 Jesus says to us: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” NASU And how about that last part… ‘…apart from Me you can do…what…NOTHING!’ Right there, in understanding that and having that as our attitude would change everything in our life, as in: “Apart from Jesus I can do NOTHING!” Now then, we do a lot of stuff, and we are doing a lot of stuff, but Jesus made it pretty clear that apart from abiding in Jesus, and depending on Jesus, and following Jesus…or, in neglecting Jesus…in not honoring Jesus and not doing things according to His ways and His will…we can do nothing of lasting value! Rather all of the stuff that we do will be as the wood, hay, and stubble that we saw in our last study that will not pass the examination of faithfulness to God, and thus, it will not be rewarded, but it will be discarded and will become as ‘loss’.
But again, in all of life, in everything in life, we are at best ‘A Branch’. Now, certainly, we are a very valuable Branch, a royal Branch, and a privileged Branch that is connected to the Vine of Eternal Life, but still we are but a ‘Branch’. And as such, we are to bear or to release whatever it is that the Vine is trying to produce or to do THROUGH us. In other words, in this virtue and experience and fruit of ‘peace’, Jesus is seeking to pass His peace onto others through His ‘peacemakers’, His Branches…which are you and me. Again, we don’t make the ‘peace’, we make FOR the peace, by just passing it on.
You will do yourself a huge favor and will be released of a great burden if, in this whole area of trying to be at peace or trying to live at peace or trying to make peace with others in your life, if you will simply stop trying to make peace and instead simply act upon passing on the peace that Prince of Peace is seeking to make in you and through you.
Remember, being a peacemaker is being one who makes for peace! And we make for peace by doing that which allows the source of Peace to make peace through us peacemakers! Note how Paul emphasizes that in Rom 14:17-19- “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make FOR peace and the building up of one another.” NASU
So we are simply responsible for pursuing and then passing on the things that make FOR peace. And then others are responsible for what they do about it…just as Paul also said in Rom 12:18- “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
NASU We certainly are to be the ones who seek to make for peace, but we certainly can’t make peace in or with those who reject this peace and reject being peaceable. That’s not on us; it’s on them! And they are accountable to God for that! We are not. But again, how blessed, how happy are the peacemakers: “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” Or, it will be obvious Whose children they are.
Peace…just pass it on!