By Lynn Jones
I saw a special about the old Ed Sullivan television show that brought back a lot of memories. In one of the routines on the show, a comedian was complaining about how stingy his mother-in-law was. “For instance,” he said, “when you sit down for a meal at her house, she always gives you a hot knife so that you can’t get any butter on it.”
Then he proceeded to tell another story about how tight his aunt was with her money. “Why,” he said, “I remember six of us sitting down for a meal at her house. The problem was that there were only five pork chops. Everyone got into a big fight, scrambling for the pork chops. “But,” he added, “I guess it was worth it. I know that the two pork chops that I ate were delicious.”
The world has a way of looking out for its own interests. J. B. Phillips paraphrased the Beatitudes as many in the world would refer them:
“Happy are the pushers, for they get ahead in the world. Happy are the hardboiled, for they never let life hurt them. Happy are they who complain, for they get their own way in the end. Happy are the blasé, for they never worry over their sins. Happy are the slave drivers, for they get results. Happy are the knowledgeable of the world, for they know their way around. Happy are the troublemakers, for they make people take notice of them.”
Self-centeredness is one of our persistent sins. We criticize others for their selfishness, but if we’re not careful we allow it to creep in through the doors of our own lives.
Jesus offered the perfect antidote for the world’s way of doing things. J. B. Phillips translated the Beatitudes of Jesus this way in Matt. 5:2-10 “Happy are the humble-minded, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Happy are those who know what sorrow means, for they will be given courage and comfort. Happy are those who claim nothing, for the whole earth will belong to them. Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for goodness, for they will be fully satisfied. Happy are the merciful, for they will have mercy shown to them. Happy are the utterly sincere, for they will see God. Happy are those who make peace, for they will be the sons of Gpd. Happy are those who have suffered persecution for the cause of goodness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”
As infants, we gradually learned to focus on and then reach for objects in the small world around us. We’ve been reaching for things ever since. There are, however, some things we do not acquire by reaching for them. Happiness is supreme among them. As we dedicate our lives to pursuing the things Jesus mentioned in the Beatitudes, happiness pursues us.
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: email@example.com.