Me-ness or Meekness

“If you want something, you’ve got to fight for it.” This is the way many people think, speak and act. They want more possessions, more power, more pleasure and they are prepared to do anything to get it. They will cheat, lie, steal, bully, and even kill just to get what they want. We see this in sport, in politics, in business, in the classroom, in the yard, and even in our families. Nobody else matters. It’s Me first (and second and third), and everyone else last. The strong win, the weak lose. If you want reward and recognition you have to be aggressive, assertive, competitive.

Then Jesus steps in and turns the world’s thinking upside down. He says, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Mat.5:5). Inherit the earth? Get the whole world? What a promise! That’s a lot more than just a few extra dollars or a few more friends. I want that! But I have to be meek to get it. So what does meek mean? And how do I get it?

Meekness is not me-ness

Meekness is the opposite of me-ness. It is putting others first, second and third, and yourself last. And it is putting God above everyone. “But if I do that, everyone else will get everything and I’ll be left with nothing.” Well, yes, it might mean we lose out a bit in this sinful, temporary world. But Jesus’ promise means that we will inherit the perfect, eternal world. That’s where faith comes in. Everything and everyone tells us “If you want anything in this world, you’ve got to fight for it.” But Jesus says, “If you want the world, you have to give it up.” Indeed, if you do live for this world, you will ultimately lose everything.

Meekness is not weakness

So does that mean I have to be one of these weak people that everyone else just tramples on? No. Meekness is not weakness. Think of Moses. He was a strong and successful leader. However, he was described as the meekest man in the world (Num.12:3). Think of Jesus. He did not just preach meekness, He practiced it (Matt.11:29). Yet He was a courageous preacher, who purged the temple with a whip, and defeated all the forces of evil through His cross. Meekness is not weakness. It is strength – but not uncontrolled and abusive strength. It is strength – under control for the benefit of others. It is power – channeled to the good of others.

How do I get meekness?

You can’t buy meekness. You can’t work it up. You can’t just decide to be meek. The order of the beatitudes instructs us that the meek are, first, poor in spirit. They see themselves as poor sinners who have nothing, can do nothing, and are nothing. That sense of spiritual poverty produces mourning over sin, and that mourning produces meekness. To put the first three beatitudes another way: Blessed are they who give up their love of self, their love of sin, and their love of this world. It is to such that Jesus gives His unbreakable word, “You shall inherit the earth.” If you want the world, you have to give it up.

What is Christian happiness?

While almost everyone wants to be happy, there is little agreement about what happiness is. Just look at the diversity of these definitions below:

Happiness is to love and to work. – Freud.

Happiness is a warm puppy. – Charles Schulz, of Charlie Brown fame.

Happiness is like obscenity. We can’t define it, but we know it when we see it. – US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.

Happiness is the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile. – Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of the How of Happiness.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. – Mahatma Gandhi.

Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude. – Dale Carnegie.

Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude. - Denis Waitley.

Happiness is the interval between periods of unhappiness. - Don Marquis.

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. – Eleanor Roosevelt.

And if you want to really exhaust yourself, here are 99 Definitions of Happiness.

But what would a Christian definition of happiness look like? Is there such a thing as Christian happiness? If so, what would it include?

I believe there is such a thing as Christian happiness, quite distinct from any other kind of happiness, but the problem is that it is so multi-layered and multi-dimensional that it’s probably impossible to define it in one sentence. Believe me, I’ve tried. Consider even just the following sample sources of Christian happiness.

  • God is our perfect Father.
  • We know Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
  • The Holy Spirit is sanctifying and empowering us.
  • Our sins are forgiven.
  • God lives in our hearts.
  • We are justified and adopted into God’s world-wide and heaven-wide family.
  • Everything is working together for our good.
  • God is our guard and guide
  • We have all the promises of God.
  • Jesus has prepared a place for us in heaven and will welcome us there.

How do you put all these rich ingredients into one simple recipe? But if you’re going to force me into a short one-sentence definition, then I’d say: Christian happiness is the grace of loving and being loved by Jesus who gave his life for me. That to me is the sum and summit of it all.

How would you define Christian happiness?

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The Surprising Science of Happiness

I’ve got a double surprise for you today. The first is the attitudes and activities that increase happiness. Yesterday we discussed how 50% of our happiness was set by our genes, only 10% was determined by our life circumstances, leaving 40% made up of our daily choices in thought, word, and deed.

But what are these thoughts, words, and deeds that generate so much of the difference between various people’s happiness levels?

Surprisingly Simple
When leading positive psychologist (happy scientist?), Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, collated the results of numerous happiness studies she found certain thinking and behavior patterns that commonly characterized the happiest participants:

  • They devote a great amount of time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships.
  • They are comfortable expressing gratitude for all they have.
  • They are often the first to offer helping hands to coworkers and passersby.
  • They practice optimism when imagining their futures.
  • They savor life’s pleasures and try to live in the present moment.
  • They make physical exercise a weekly and even daily habit.
  • They are deeply committed to lifelong goals and ambitions (e.g., fighting fraud, building cabinets, or teaching their children their deeply held values).
  • Last but not least, the happiest people do have their share of stresses, crises, and even tragedies. They may become just as distressed and emotional in such circumstances as you or I, but their secret weapon is the poise and strength they show in coping in the face of challenge. [The How of Happiness, 23]

It’s surprisingly straightforward isn’t it? Nothing especially spectacular or particularly extraordinary. My own initial response was “Is that it?” That’s it. But when leveraged by the 40% figure, these attitudes and actions can cause a significant increase in personal happiness.

Surprisingly of Similar
The second surprise is how similar they are to Christian values and ethics. Every one of them overlaps with a key Christian virtue. But this shouldn’t really surprise us, should it? God is simply allowing these scientists to discover facts and truths that He has packed into the moral universe. They are only finding out what God already knows, knowledge that He has already shared with humanity in His Word.

But there is still a significant difference between these values and Christian values. Good though they are in and of themselves, they are all on the horizontal plane; they lack a vertical dimension. They are man-centered, not God-centered.

Although we should expect humanity to flourish even when unknowingly following God’s moral order, when the God of these values is brought into the picture, the 40% receives a massive happiness boost. When our happy God becomes the director, the motivator, the enabler, and the rewarder of our daily thoughts, words, and deeds, happiness enters another dimension and should result not just in the odd happy day, but an ongoing increase in our baseline happiness.

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