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Happiness Is To Admit Your Need (1st in series)

One day one of Charlie Brown’s friends asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up Charlie Brown?”  He replied, “Outrageously happy!”  And we would say, “Right on, Charlie Brown”.

Ralph Sockman once called our age a cult of “happiness seekers.”  A past President of Harvard put it this way–“The world is searching for a creed to believe and a song to sing.”

Yet nothing seems more illusive.  Just when one thinks she/he has achieved everything thought to make one happy, the inner ache is prone to return.  Those who seem to have the most seem most conscious of their inability to produce happiness.

During his later years, Cecil Rhodes, the great empire builder of South Africa granted an interview.  He was congratulated on his success with the comment, “You must be very happy.”  “Happy.  Good Lord no!”  “Then he went on to say that he had spent all his life amassing a fortune only to find that now he had to spend it all, half on doctors to keep him out of the grave and the other half on lawyers to keep him out of jail.

Some have seemed to suggest that the Christian is to oppose this quest.  How strange, since the foundation of Jesus’ greatest sermon (the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:3-12) includes what we call the Beatitudes.  This series of eight character traits begins with a word literally translated “happy.”  Robert Schuller has called them “The be Happy Attitudes.”

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:3

           The beatitudes begin with what most translate “poor in spirit”—Happy are the poor in spirit.  What does that mean?
            First, it is not about wealth or poverty.  It is not saying, “poor now, rich later.”  In fact, it is against pre-occupation with wealth, it is a certain detachment from things.
         Neither is it a natural trait of personality as is sometimes suggested.  It is not about bashful, lack of self-confidence, self-contempt, or one who excuses herself from every responsibility by pleading “I can’t” (I don’t have the ability).
            It describes one reduced to the level of dependence, awareness of need.  It is a Declaration of Dependence.  That is the exact opposite of what world thinks—self-confidence, mastery of life, “believe in yourself.”  Gideon, Moses, Isaiah, Saul are all Biblical examples who recognized they needed help to do what God had asked.  The missionary, E. Stanley Jones when introducing someone to Jesus would ask, “What is your need?”
            To admit one’s need is the fundamental trait needed to begin the Christian journey and to know true happiness.  Being ready to start at the beginning, from scratch and learn life anew is the condition of receiving from Jesus.  Perhaps Charles Spurgeon said it best, “Empty buckets are fittest for the well of grace.”
             One paraphrase of this verse goes “Happy is the person who is conscious of desperate need, and…is …certain that in God alone, that need can be supplied.” (William Barclay)
            The song writer, Joseph Hart (1759), echos the good news of the Christian message with these words:

“Let not conscience make you linger, nor of fitness fondly dream;
all the fitness he requireth is to feel your need of him.”

He stands ready to meet your need today.  Read all 8.

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