Straight Talk About Your Happiness

He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
–Proverbs 16:20

If you have seen “The Wizard of Oz” or read the children’s book by L. Frank Baum, then you are familiar with the story of Dorothy, who is transported to the magical land of Oz. There, she and her three new friends–the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man–are prancing down the yellow brick road to find the wizard of Oz, and they each plan to ask the wizard for something different. Dorothy wants to get home to Kansas. The Cowardly Lion wants courage. The Tin Man wants to regain his heart. In the book, he explains, “While I was in love I was the happiest man on earth; but no one can love who has not a heart.”

The Scarecrow responds, “I shall ask for brains instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one.”

“I shall take the heart,” the Tin Man insists, “for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.”

Is happiness really the best thing in the world? Yes–as long as you understand happiness the way Jesus understood it. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, Jesus taught us how to experience real happiness, both now and for eternity. In the beginning verses of His sermon, Jesus continually used the word “blessed.” This is the Greek word “makarios,” which could be translated as “happy.” But frankly, our English word “happy” does not capture everything Jesus had in mind. Our word comes from an Old English word meaning “luck” or “circumstance.” I think about it this way: happiness depends upon our happenings. For example, I enjoy sitting on the couch with my wife in the evening, eating a bowl of ice cream and watching my favorite TV program. I am happy. But if the television stops working or my carton of ice cream is empty, then I am very unhappy. My happiness depends on what is happening around me.

But in Matthew 5, Jesus was talking about something more than that. He was talking about an inward joy–not giddiness, but an inward assurance that comes from trusting in God’s sovereignty and following His commands. A believer who obeys Christ can be joyful no matter what is happening around them because they have God’s approval in their life. That is the theme of this famous sermon: those who model their attitudes, actions, and affections after Jesus Christ will experience a genuine joy in this life and unending happiness in the next life.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Happiness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.

L. Frank Baum, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” 100th anniversary ed. (New York: HarperCollins, 2000), 60-61.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org

 

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