The Happiness Algorithm

Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  It is very doctrinal – it emphasizes a very fundamental doctrine of the gospel – that salvation is entirely of grace, and that is a free gift from God.

It says “Blessed are those”, or in essence, HAPPY are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.  It suggests that the only truly happy people are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.  Who is looking for happiness?  I would suggest we all are!

We go to school, to get into college, so we can get a good job, so we can make money, so we can have a nice home, car, possessions of all types, so we can be…HAPPY.  Behind just about everything we do, every act and ambition, the work and striving, behind all effort is the great motive known as happiness.

The problem is, we go about interpreting this verse all wrong.  We are not to hunger and thirst after blessedness.  We are not to hunger and thirst after happiness.  BUT this is what a lot of us do.  We make happiness and blessedness as the main object of desire.  The scriptures never really tell us to seek out happiness directly.  It is always something that results from seeking something else.  This is true for Christians and non-Christians alike.  The whole world is seeking happiness.  They try to find it, they make it their goal, their objective.  BUT they don’t find it because when you put happiness before Righteousness – you probably won’t be successful.

The great tragedy of the world is that, though it seeks for happiness, it never seems to find it. It searches for happiness in seemingly everything — leisure activities like basketball, golf, fishing; in pre-marital or extra-marital sex; in drugs, alcohol, and tobacco; in work and business; in money and possessions.  The world has made happiness its goal, its objective.

I’m afraid that there are many within the church who have never learned this lesson either. They search for happiness in conventions, or conferences, or classes, or they move from church to church, always looking for happiness.

What does the person who is hungering and thirsting for righteousness look like?  First, it is the man who sees that has separated him from God, and longs to get back into that old relationship.  Second, it means a desire to be free from the power of sin.  Ephesians 2 says:  “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”   We realize that Satan has been blinding us to various things, and we long to be free from it.  It is a desire to be free from the very desire for sin.  The sad fact is that sin has such a hold on us, that not only do realize that we’re in the bondage of sin, but that we like it, that we want it.

The person who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness is longing to be holy.  It is the person who wants to exemplify the Beatitudes in their daily life.  It is the person who wants to show the fruit fo the Spirit in every action and in the whole of his life and activity.  It is a person whose supreme desire in life is to know God and to be in fellowship with Him, to walk with God.

God asks, in Isaiah 55:2 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” Only God satisfies. So, we need to come to the place where we are hungry for God. We must desire Him so passionately that our desire causes us to do something about it. Nothing less than that passion will cause us to act properly.

The beatitude simply says, “They will be filled,” but the meaning is: “They will be filled with the fullness of divine and perfect righteousness,” because that is what they have been hungering after.

It may seem that a paradox exists: God will satisfy us, but we will continue to hunger and thirst. I’m satisfied when I eat chips and salsa at a good Mexican Restaurant, but I always want more! The satisfaction one chip provides also increases my desire for more of the same. That is a picture of what righteousness is for the saved – the more we are filled with the fulfilling taste of Christ’s righteousness, the more we desire it.

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