If You're Happy And You Know It

Bible Book: Selected Passages 
Subject: Joy; Happiness; Peace

Are you happy? Dr. Edward Abiel Washburn (1819-1881) writes, “It is not merely happiness, whatever our shallow moralists may say, that is ‘the aim and end of our being.’ Happiness implies merely the undisturbed enjoyment of the man. It may belong to the child, or to the selfish votary of the world. It may be spoken of the miser’s gold, or of the successful prizes of ambition, or of the gilded baubles of social folly. There is no moral meaning in it. But it is blessedness that alone can satisfy the mind and heart, which are living for another end than self; blessedness, which has no hap in it, no chance, no merely outward success.”1 Ian Maclaren, pseudonym of Rev. John Watson (1850-1907), Scottish author and theologian, explains, “The world has its own idea of blessedness. Blessed is the man who is always right. Blessed is the man who is satisfied with himself. Blessed is the man who is strong. Blessed is the man who rules. Blessed is the man who is rich. Blessed is the man who is popular. Blessed is the man who enjoys life. These are the beatitudes of sight and this present world. It comes with a shock and opens a new realm of thought that not one of these men entered Jesus' mind when he treated of blessedness.”2

With this in mind, let’s look at happiness in three ways.

I. Willful distractions from happiness. These distractions are revealed in sinful obsessions.

1 John 2:15-17 reads, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (Emphasis mine)

Every sinful obsession finds its basis in either “the lust of the flesh,” “the lust of the eyes,” or “the pride of life”. It is helpful to ask and answer the following questions:

Am I charmed by the world’s delight?

Am I chained by the flesh’s desires?

Am I challenged by the devil’s demons?

II. Woeful distortions of happiness. These distortions are revealed in misguided objectives.

Luke 6:20-26 reads, “Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: ‘Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets. ‘But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Emphasis mine)

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe writes, “Jesus emphasized the true spiritual values of life in contrast to the false values of the Pharisees (Matt. 23). Comfortable living is not always Christian living.”3 Matthew 5:17-20 reads, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 23:1-36 reads, “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.

‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

 ‘Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it. ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ ‘Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” (Emphasis mine)

What is the relation of this discourse recorded in Luke 6:17-49, known as the Sermon on the Plain, to the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5-7? Dr. Charles John Vaughan (1816-1897) writes, “Men have doubted whether the discourse in Matthew 5:1-48; Mat 6:1-34; Mat 7:1-29, is to be regarded as an ampler account of that which begins with this verse. Many passages occur in both. The general scope and purport is the same. Yet, as St. Matthew says expressly that Jesus spake sitting, on the mountain, and St. Luke that He spake standing, and in the plain, it seems not very unnatural to suppose that the one (that given by St. Matthew) was a discourse delivered, as it were, to the inner circle of His disciples, apart from the crowd of outside hearers; the other (that preserved by St. Luke), a briefer and more popular rehearsal of the chief topics of the former, addressed, immediately afterwards, on descending from the hill-top, to the promiscuous multitude. And the formation of the hill which tradition has marked as the Mount of the Beatitudes lends itself naturally to this supposition. For modern travellers have marked, upon its eastern summit, a little circular plain exactly suited for the gathering of a smaller and more select audience; and again, on the lower ridge, between that eastern and another western horn of the same mountain, a larger space, flattened also to a plain, corresponding, it would seem, with singular exactness to the scene described by St. Luke, and to the presence of that larger concourse to which the second and briefer discourse is thus conceived to have been addressed.”4

III. Watchful distinctions for happiness. These distinctions are revealed in trusting obedience.

Matthew 5:1-12 reads, “And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’” (Emphasis mine)

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) asks in My Utmost for His Highest, “AM I BLESSED LIKE THIS?” Chambers explains, “We have slowly to form our walk and conversation on the line of the precepts of Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit applies them to our circumstances.”5

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe warns, “The world (and worldly believers) would disagree with Christ’s description of a blessed (happy) person, but the description is true just the same. God majors on character and so should we.”6 Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) shares the following on “True happiness”: “Beatitude is the perfect being of every creature. It is that condition in which there remains nothing to be desired, nothing to be obtained. I. MAN WAS MADE EXPRESSLY FOR THIS PERFECT BEATITUDE. It is because he was created for it, that his whole life is spent in the pursuit of it. The human soul must strain after happiness, it cannot help doing so, for happiness is its necessary object. It seeks it with the energy with which the stone detached from the mountain rolls to its foot, drawn by gravitation. Not only so, but the sinner himself, in all his errors, seeks happiness. He is mistaken in the place where he seeks, but it is happiness which he seeks; and when he find[s] out that he has not obtained that which he desired, he falls back into disgust, and gropes for it elsewhere. The traveller in the desert rushes forward when he sees the mirage, thinking it water, and plunges among sand-hills; he is mistaken in looking for water there, but it is a true thirst which has impelled him towards the spot. II. EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD AND BEAUTIFUL, IN THIS WORLD IS GOOD AND BEAUTIFUL BECAUSE IT DERIVES ITS GOOD AND BEAUTY FROM GOD. Riches, pleasure, gaiety, &c., are not evil in themselves, but only when sought as final ends, without thought of God. When they are sought as sources of happiness, and not as reflections of the perfections which are in God, then they are evil. The creatures which God made arc good, but if we content ourselves with loving and devoting ourselves to the creatures, we are falling away from the Creator. A great bishop and doctor of the Church (Bellarmine) wrote a very lovely book, called ‘The Ascent of the Mind by the Ladder of the Creature to God.’ The creatures of God are guide-posts to God, not goals to which we are to run, and at which we are to lie down to rest. III. PERFECT HAPPINESS OR BEATITUDE IS ONLY TO BE FOUND IN GOD. All secondary good things are imperfect because they are created, and for the same reason they are not imperishable. The soul must have that which is perfect and enduring. What is perfect and enduring is in God alone.”7

Dr. D. Stuart Briscoe explains, “The biggest problem we face is not that society doesn't act more like Christians. The real problem is Christians who will not stop behaving like everyone else! Many of us blend right in with friends and neighbors who are nonbelievers. We act like them, giving us little credibility to share how Christ has changed our lives.

Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount to His beloved disciples for just that reason. He wanted to be sure His followers (then and now) understood they were called to standards and conduct that was distinctive and shockingly different from everyone else. He wanted them to stick out like sore thumbs so they could point the way to Him.”8

Remember the following lyrics in the chorus of the beloved hymn by John Henry Sammis (1846-1919):

Trust and obey,

For there’s no other way

To be happy in Jesus,

But to trust and obey.9

Rev. Croft M. Pentz (1931-2008) shares the following: “Your obedience to God today is the best preparation for tomorrow.”10


Philip Doddridge (1702-1751), penned these words published posthumously in 1755:

O happy day, that fixed my choice

On Thee, my Savior and my God!

Well may this glowing heart rejoice,

And tell its raptures all abroad.


Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away!

He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day

Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away.11 Only those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ are truly happy! Dr. Charles John Vaughan explains, “He who taught in parables taught also in paradoxes. His thoughts are not our thoughts. It is as though He had said, Happy are the unhappy, honourable the dishonoured, great the little, and rich the poor. Well, we must follow Him. We must learn His language, we must judge His judgment, if we would ever rejoice in His salvation.”12

If you’re happy and you know it say amen.

1The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, [Luke 6:20] (New York, NY: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1905), n.p. Database © 2012 WORDsearch Corp.

2F. W. Boreham, The Heavenly Octave: A Study of the Beatitudes (London: Epworth Press [E. C. Barton], 1936), 8. Accessed: 04/25/16 https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Heavenly_Octave.html?id=z8FCygAACAAJ .

3Warren W. Wiersbe, Chapter-By-Chapter Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991), 673.

4Charles John Vaughan, Characteristics of Christ’s Teaching, Drawn from the Sermon on the Mount (New York, NY: Alexander Strahan Publisher, 1866), 3-4. 

5Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 25 reading (New York, NY: Dodd, Mead, & Company, Inc., 1935), 207.  

6Wiersbe, Commentary, 634.

7Illustrator, Exell, [Luke 6:20], n.p.

8Stuart Briscoe, The Sermon on the Mount: Daring to Be Different, (Colorado Springs, CO: Shaw Books, 2000), Book Description. Accessed: 04/25/16 http://www.tellingthetruth.org/store/product/74afe7d6-8839-4400-952d-0d686727f8d8/The_Sermon_on_the_Mount.aspx .

9John Henry Sammis, “Trust and Obey,” (1887).

10Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers, (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1990), Database © 2005 WORDsearch Corp.

11Philip Doddridge, “O Happy Day, That Fixed My Choice,” (1755).

12Vaughan, Characteristics, 5.

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on Amazon.com in hardcover, paperback and eBook]

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Miss-Revival-Spiritual-Awakening/dp/1462735428 &  http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Biblical-Preaching-Giving-Bible/dp/1594577684 / fkirksey@bellsouth.net   / (251) 626-6210

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