One can begin the New Year with a list of resolutions, but since that’s been done (and failed year after year by me) I thought I’d try something old and yet surprisingly refreshing. Long, long ago, on a grassy hillside surrounded by His disciples and townspeople gathered from Galilee, Jerusalem and elsewhere, Jesus spoke these words which have value even in 2014. After all, He’s seen it, lived it, done it and challenges us to do the same.
I am beginning this new year reading from the gospels out of the Clear Word Bible. It is a paraphrase and probably different from the story in Matthew that you may remember, but this version gives the sermon a fresh, new perspective and one I can fully grasp. Let’s give it a try:
Happiness ~ comes from having a humble attitude. If you feel your need of God and trust Him, you have the kingdom of God within you.
Happiness ~ comes from grieving when you sin. Confess yours sins and you will be forgiven and peace will spring up in your soul.
Happiness ~ comes from being submissive. When you acknowledge God as the source of life and abilities, you will feel heaven’s joy. One day, people like this will fill the whole earth.
Happiness ~ comes from longing to do what is right. Those who do right will have an inner satisfaction that nothing else can give.
Happiness ~ comes from being compassionate and forgiving. People will remember your loving kindness and return the same to you.
Happiness ~ comes to those with pure hearts and motives. Such people will one day have the privilege of seeing God and talking to Him face to face.
Happiness ~ comes from being a peacemaker, for such are God’s children.
Happiness ~ even comes from being treated badly for doing what’s right. Just remember that no matter what happens, your place in heaven is secure.
Strangely enough, you’ll find yourself blessed even when people insult you, persecute you and lie about you because you have accepted me. when this happens, be glad, because it shows that your name is written in heaven and that your reward will be waiting for you there. Remember the prophets were treated no differently.
If you hold on to these values, you will be the salt of the world. But if you let go of them, you’ll be like tasteless salt. With these values in your life, you’ll be like a city built on a hill visible to everyone who passes by. People don’t like a candle to hide it, but hold it up high or put it on a lampstand so everyone in the house can benefit from the light. In this same way, let your light shine that others will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.
And you, beloved, are the light of the world. Like a city built on a hilltop, you cannot be hidden. You are like an illuminating light shining everywhere you go. Illuminate creation with your light so that men and women everywhere may see your good actions, witness your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it. (portions of Matthew 5:13-16 paraphrased)