A note on happiness

Are we supposed to be happy?  To most people, the answer is probably obvious.  At least it may seem obvious.  But to others, like me, who have issues with depression – the answer is hardly obvious at all.  Being happy can feel like something for other people.  Whether happiness is something to experience can be a question for Christians as well.

A note on happiness is article #1 in the series: Beatitudes. Click button to view titles for entire series

happy dogThe preachers who are into the so-called prosperity gospel, which isn’t in the New Testament, say – of course, God wants us to be happy.  But what does Jesus actually say about being happy during His time on this planet?  Jesus’ words should be shocking to those proponents and believers of that “prosperity gospel”.

I’m asking this question because I’m trying to write this series on The Beatitudes.  You know – the part of the Sermon On The Mount where everything starts with “Blessed are …“?  Well, if you didn’t know already, that can also be translated as “happy are …“.

When you read it, it sounds kind of odd.  Actually – it can sound really odd.

The Sermon on the Mount

Mt 5:1 Jesus saw the crowds and went up a hill, where he sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them:

True Happiness

Mt 5:3 “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor;     the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! Mt 5:4“Happy are those who mourn;     God will comfort them! Mt 5:5 “Happy are those who are humble;     they will receive what God has promised! Mt 5:6 “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires;     God will satisfy them fully! Mt 5:7 “Happy are those who are merciful to others;     God will be merciful to them! Mt 5:8 “Happy are the pure in heart;     they will see God! Mt 5:9 “Happy are those who work for peace;     God will call them his children! Mt 5:10 “Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires;     the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!

Mt 5:11 “Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted.

That’s the kind of thing that can make you ask – Is He kidding?  Happiness is when I mourn?

And then Jesus also said things like this:

In this world you will have trouble.

It can sound like Jesus was depressed and wants the same for all of us!

Honestly, there were times in my life when I thought things like happiness and joy were for the next life – not this one.

That kind of thinking seems even more correct when we realize that Jesus’ words about having trouble came in this context:

Jn 16:31 “You believe at last!”Jesus answered. 32 “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

Jn 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Yeah – Jesus has overcome the world.  And so can we, if we believe in Him.  Then we spend eternity with Him.  In the next life.

It really sounds like happiness in this life is a pipe dream, doesn’t it?

I’ve been trying to write this series for at least a couple months now.  It’s just not coming out.  When that happens, I just stop.  Don’t even try to write.  There’s always a reason – and all I can do is wait until I find out what it is.  For this one – I think it’s what I’m writing right now.  

It’s like people seem to be either “happy” or not “happy”.  Up or down.  “Happy or Depressed.  Yes – dictionary.com says the opposite of depressed is happy.  Then, depending one which one we are, we look at things differently.  If we’re happy, we look for the good in things we see.  If we’re depressed, we tend to look for the negative in the things we see.

The “problem”, if I can call it that, is that means we generally see just one side of things.  Maybe because I go back and forth between “happy” and “depressed”, depending on when I read the Bible, I can / do see the writings very differently.  One day, I can read a passage and see it as very negative – like hellfire and damnation.  But another day – or maybe even later that same day – I can see it as something very different – like love and salvation.  The very same passage – with two very different meanings.

But here’s my question on that.  Is it me?  Or are there really two very different things being said?  For instance, one of my favorite passages to use under many different contexts begins with this:

God’s Wrath Against Mankind

Ro 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

That whole section in Romans is something people don’t like to read – because they see the Hellfire and Damnation side of God in it.  And sure enough, it’s there.  However, there’s also the flip side – where Paul writes that what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to themThat’s the loving side of God.  Both are there.  But do we see them?  (See Is God loving or angry? for more on that.)

I believe that all to often, we don’t see it.  Therefore, don’t understand what God really tells us in the Bible.  And worse yet, we don’t appreciate what He has done and continues to do for us.

I think it’s the same with the Beatitudes.  Most Christians would say these blessing are, obviously, good things.  But – do we believe they are for us?  Or are they for someone else?  Do we really believe that we’re happy when we mourn?  That’s what Jesus said.  But do we believe those words are true when we mourn?

Please try to think in that context as we continue throughout the series.  Truthfully – I believe we should always think that way when we read the Bible.  Also, it sometimes seems that it’s when I’m depressed and read the Bible, I see the good.  But when I’m happy and read the Bible, I sometimes focus more on the bad.  At first, it seems counter-intuitive.  And yet, that also provides some insight into why those who need Jesus the most are the very ones who seek Him the hardest.

All Christians and a whole lot of non-Christians know John 3:16.  But do even Christians know, and understand, the two opposing messages of what comes after John 3:16?

Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

And then, in Revelation, we see this salvation and condemnation carried out:

The Harvest of the Earth

Rev 14:14 I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one “like a son of man” with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.

Rev 14:17 Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” 19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20 They were trampled in the winepress outside the city.

See?  Both messages.  Salvation, for sure.  But also condemnation.

Here’s another question.  Why is it that the people who are “happy” by earthly standards often don’t want to read this?  And why do people who are “unhappy” by earthly standards can’t wait to hear it?  In other words, why do “happy” people so often get the message of condemnation – while the “unhappy” people get the message of salvation?

I believe those questions will be answering by paying close attention to the Beatitudes.  By paying attention to both sides.  The unusual things that Jesus says will make us happy.  The things that are good for us.  But that we, if we’re honest, often would like to be for someone else to be happy about.

OK – back on topic.

Is happiness really not for this life?

But wait just a minute.  That’s wrong.  Totally wrong.  Not to say the “prosperity gospel” people are right – ’cause they aren’t.  But we have to remember, Jesus also said:

The Vine and the Branches

Jn 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Well, at the time, Jesus was talking to His disciples.  So the words were true for them.  For us today – they’re also true – if, and only if – we are true disciples as well.  That means disciples as defined by Jesus – not disciples as defined by us.

That’s the start of answering our question about understanding two sides of Jesus’ and the Bible’s message.  Even here, where it seems there’s only one message, there are actually two.  One for the true disciple.  And the unspoken message to the non-disciple or false-disciple – you are not clean because of Jesus’ words, because you don’t understand them and therefore cannot possibly follow them or be affected by them.

Jn 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches.If a man remains in me  and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

If a man remains in me has a message for the true disciple.

 If anyone does not remain in me has a message for the non-disciple.  I’m not going to get into the theological question of whether or not one can lose salvation – or if someone like this never had it in the first place.  That’s for another series – free will versus predestiny.

The key here is that, in order to really understand and be a true disciple – Jesus tells us we must remain in Him.  Short of that, we cannot really understand the message.  We won’t understand what Jesus’ words really mean.

Jn 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  Jesus continues the previous thought, and then begins to talk about joy.  Joy, in the Biblical sense isn’t happy in the worldly sense.  That’s yet one more thing we need to understand, but cannot understand unless we are true disciples.

Even here then, there are two messages.  One that the true disciple will understand.  And one that the non-disciple will likely think is for them – but isn’t.  Along with that, there will be misunderstandings of things like love, laying down one’s life, and getting whatever we ask for.

and Jesus also said:

The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy

Jn 16:17 Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

Jn 16:19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

Two things are happening here.  First – we see that even Jesus’ own disciples who are with Him don’t understand.  One huge difference between them and us though, is that they know they don’t understand.  Too often, we think we understand, but are completely lost.

The other thing is related to when Jesus said, I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.  Weep and especially mourn.  Sounds like the Beatitudes.  And grief turning to joy.  Sadness into happiness.  Again, sounds like the Beatitudes.

I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy sounds like the next life.  But remember, Jesus returned in their lifetime.  True – He’ll also “leave” them again, when He returns to Heaven.  But after His resurrection, the disciples will see Jesus, and their joy will begin to return.  After the Ascension, and when they receive the Holy Spirit, their joy will never be taken away again.  Even in this life.

So we see joy again.  Happiness, of a sort.  We see that at some point it will never be taken away from the true disciple.  On the flip side, the non-disciple will have a different kind of joy / happiness.  And even that will be taken away.

Again, these are things to be remembered and considered as we read and try to understand the Bible – including Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes.  As Jesus says, Happy are …

and Jesus also said this:

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

Jn 17:6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

Jn 17:13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”

Check this out – “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.  The true disciple may have the full measure of Jesus’ joy.  And that’s not after death and when the next life begins.  We know that, because Jesus then says, As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  Yes – while they – and we – are still in the world.

That’s the message for the true disciple.

For the non-disciple, in case you missed it, the message was this: I pray for them (the true disciple). I am not praying for the world (everyone else), but for those you have given me, for they are yours.  Oh.  That’s a tough message.  And yet – there it is.

So after all that, can you see that everything we just looked at contains two messages?  One for the true disciple.  And one for everyone else.  Jesus’ words can be a message of great joy / happiness and salvation.  Or, they can be a message of condemnation.  They can be understood, by some.  And they can be misunderstood or completely lost on others.

The words are there for us to read.  To pay attention to, if we want to.  To try to understand, if we want to.  To ignore, if we want to.  It’s really up to us.  However, unless / until we realize that there are, in reality, two sets of messages, I don’t believe that we can truly understand and even begin to really appreciate those words.

Another way to put it – we may have some measure of joy / happiness if we only partially understand.  However, until we understand both sides of what Jesus has said, can we really attain the full measure of His (my)  joy within us (them)?  I suspect not.

Of course, I’m not saying that we’ll ever fully understand God in this life.  It’s just not going to happen.  It’s a matter of degree.  And of intent.  It’s a progression.  If we don’t even start to try to understand – we obviously won’t.  But the more intent we are in trying to understand, the further we’ll move on that line of progression towards a more complete, but still incomplete, understanding.

Does that mean no “worldly” joy / happiness?

So does that mean we shouldn’t have any of that worldly joy / happiness?  Does that mean we shouldn’t enjoy the things of this world at all?  Should we basically lived a depressed / unhappy life in every way other than what we’re about to read in the Beatitudes?

This goes back to the opening paragraph.

Are we supposed to be happy?  To most people, the answer is probably obvious.  At least it seems obvious.  But to others, like me, who have issues with depression – the answer is hardly obvious at all.  Being happy can feel like something for other people.  Whether happiness is something to experience can be a question for Christians as well.  

You may think I’m going to say yes – we should only find happiness in the things from the Beatitudes.  But I think that misses the joy / happiness the Bible tells us about.

Remember something we saw earlier:

God’s Wrath Against Mankind

Ro 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Notice – For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.

There are good things in the world.  Yes, things went south, so to speak, after The Fall.  But things didn’t go entirely and completely bad.  Evidence of the good remains.  In fact, Paul tells us that there’s still enough good after the fall that evidence of God remains.  Enough evidence that His eternal power and divine nature should be obvious to us, even today.

Also, something we didn’t read yet, also from Romans –

Future Glory

Ro 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Ro 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Paul writes that all of creation is subject to decay – but not that it’s totally 100% bad and evil.

But also notice this: We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Creation seems to be aware of something that we, with all our intelligence, don’t always figure out.

However, the really mind-blowing words on this topic came in the Old Testament:

Psalm 66

For the director of music. A song. A psalm.

Ps 66:1 Shout with joy to God, all the earth!

Ps 66:2 Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!

Ps 66:3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.

Ps 66:4 All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.”

Yes – All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.

Even the earth – subjected to the frustration that Paul wrote about, because of our action in the Garden of Eden, in some way / some fashion, “understands” something that we cannot.  Or is it “will not”, because we don’t want to?

If you don’t quite follow that, consider something Jesus said –

The Triumphal Entry

19:29-38 pp — Mt 21:1-9; Mk 11:1-10 19:35-38 pp — Jn 12:12-15

Lk 19:28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”

Lk 19:32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

Lk 19:34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

Lk 19:35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

Lk 19:37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

Lk 19:38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Lk 19:39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

Lk 19:40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Lk 19:41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Ultimately, we see that all of creation – even the stones of the earth – know what’s going on.  And they’ll all cry out with praise to God.  Except most of us.  We won’t.

It’s a message that seems so obvious.  And yet, to most, it’s not obvious at all.

Just like the Beatitudes.  To some, they are amazing truth.  To others, they’re words for someone else.  To still others, they’re weird – backwards – ways to control people.  And to still others, they don’t even know.  Or care.

Conclusions – happy or not?  Happiness or depression?  Or something else?

In Proverbs, Solomon writes:

Pr 16:3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

The unwritten, and maybe misunderstood part of that – Not everything we try to commit to the Lord is actually accepted by the Lord.  It’s not only our committing it to God that matters.  It’s the combination of our committing things to God, and also His acceptance of our commitments.  If we offer something that’s offensive or wrong to God – He will reject it.

Paul writes:

The Believer’s Freedom

1Co 10:23 “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

1Co 10:25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

1Co 10:27 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake— 29 the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

1Co 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1Co 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

As an example, my dinner tonight was uni and ikura (that’s sea urchin and salmon eggs – both raw) over rice.  I think those are two of the best tasting / textural foods created for us to eat.  And I’m grateful to God every time I get to eat them.

On the other hand, I’ve been offered food from sacrifices made for other religions – but would only eat them when others present know that doesn’t mean I subscribe to that religion – because I don’t.  If I can’t do that – then I wouldn’t eat it at all.  That’s just the way we should be.

But it’s not just food.  It’s everything – whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Yes – everything.

There are more examples, but for those who will get the point, this is enough.  For those who won’t or don’t want to get the point, no amount would be enough.

And so – that’s some of the thinking we should do as we go through the Beatitudes.  And although I’ve written this as part of the Beatitudes series – blessed are / happy are – these things are important for any Bible reading / study.

One more thing

I must’ve been dreaming about this last night – after posting it.  It occurred to me that some may come away with the idea that I’m saying one needs to be depressed in order to understand the Beatitudes.  Of course, that’s not at all what I’m saying.

The concept to come away with is this:  people who suffer from depression can’t begin to do anything about it until we both recognize that we have it, and then accept that it’s not “normal” and something can be done about it.

In a similar way, when we view life in this world, we have to first recognize that this isn’t the way is was supposed to be.  The Bible makes that very clear.  However, we need to both recognize that – and accept it before we can begin to understand and act on God’s plan for making things right.

It’s the process – the recognition, the acceptance, the desire and willingness to do something about it.  And unless we actually see all of that for the way things are – and the way things should have been, without sin – then we can’t truly understand our part in that plan.

It doesn’t matter how we reach the point where we can see, recognize and desire something better.  It doesn’t matter how we come to love and desire God.  This is just one way that I can write about – because it’s a bog part of how I came to that realization.  Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve hung on to this passage:

Ask, Seek, Knock

7:7-11 pp — Lk 11:9-13

Mt 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Mt 7:9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

The desire for that Father, instead of the biological one I had, is something I’ve never forgotten.

So for you – however you get there – That understanding of how things really are – and how they could be – I believe we need to have it in order to have a better appreciation for God’s Word.

If we don’t think there’s anything wrong with this world, we won’t desire anything better.

And if we don’t think things can get better, we won’t desire anything better.

Even if we do think things can be better, if we don’t care about other people, we’re missing out on love – the kind of love that God has for us.

All of those are things to think about as we read the Bible.  As we study the Beatitudes.

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