Michael Youssef - Happiness is in You - Part 1
Happiness, who wants it? Who is not pursuing it? Who is not craving it? And who has found it? Just about all surveys have indicated that lots of people are pursuing happiness, but they're pursuing it in all sorts of things and all sorts of ways. But alas, they can't find it. In fact, happiness now is a multibillion, with a "B", multibillion-dollar business. Some scientists who were so baffled about this whole thing, they ended up concluding that there is a genetic disposition to unhappiness. There are some actually who want the others to make them happy. They want their spouse to make them happy. They want their boss to make them happy. They want the church to make them happy. No wonder they can't find it.
Now, in this series of messages, happiness is in you. I want to show you that it's actually Jesus who said that. Happiness is in you. You don't have to go looking for it. It's in you. When Jesus sat on that grassy knoll, where I've been there many times, and he began to teach, he was basically saying this. He was saying that happiness is not an external condition that you need to work hard to get it. And the Beatitudes is like a stepping stairs going upward. We're gonna see this more and more in the next several messages. But in every one of those, Jesus is saying the secret to happiness is not getting what you want. In fact, sometimes that leads to unhappiness, but it is contented with what you have.
Back in my wild days of academia, I used to listen to these academic types, you know? And I used to listen to them about what makes them happy. And what makes academicians happy is publishing, publishing academic books with well-known press, university press, or well-known publishers in academia. Back then, the motto was, I don't even know what it is now. I've been away from it. But back then the motto was publish or perish. I mean, it was just always constantly publish or perish, publish or perish. Back in those wild days, I heard some academics say, "Given the measurements of happiness, God must be a very unhappy person".
And here's why. I give you the reasons. He had only one major publication, and it was written in Hebrew and in Greek. It has no good references or good footnotes. It was not published with a well-known academic press or publisher. Some denied the fact that he actually wrote that book. The scientific community cannot replicate its results. Thank God for that. He rarely came to class, but he only told the students to read his book. Some insisted that is actually his son who taught the class, and not himself, and he had to expel his first two students. Even though the class had only ten requirements, all the students failed. His office hours are irregular. And he often held this class on the mountaintop.
Well, that mountaintop class that is gonna be our curriculum for the next several messages. And on that mountaintop, he made sure that everyone in his class understood that the secret of happiness, not where people say it is, not what people say you can find it or try to find it, but he said the secret of happiness is in you. You just have to recognize it. Turn with me please to Matthew chapter 5 and verse 3, only one verse. Matthew 5:3, happy, blessed, makarios. Can you say makarios with me? Makarios, that's what the Greek word is, are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus, always turned the world upside down, upside down. Our culture says happy are you when you are aggressive and proactive, for you get your way.
Jesus said, "No, the secret of happiness are in those who are broken on the inside". Happy are the ones who feel helpless without God's power in their life. The true happy people who are God's people who feel desperate and empty in themselves, but full with God. Why? Because they have a true view of their condition. In psychology today, it's a big buzzword, self-awareness, self-awareness, having the accurate view of yourself. They are truly happy and blessed. But some are just, don't know about it. Hopefully by today, you will. And that is why we need to discover it and we discover it within. When you feel helpless and hopeless, when you feel so unworthy of the amazing grace, that is the time when you discover the secret to real happiness.
Some people will find it very hard to comprehend that. How can that be? How can that be when everything around is saying the opposite? It's true, why? Because the world's definition of happiness is being exhilarated by pleasure, by accomplishment, by achievements, by winning the lottery, by this and by that, and by promotion, but these things are all temporary at best. True happiness, true blessing, true joy is different, why? Because your brokenness on the inside, your total dependence on God on the inside is your true qualification for inheriting the kingdom of heaven, and that is the secret of your happiness. And that is why this brokenness, or poverty of spirit, is the first step.
In fact, that's the first step to become a believer in Jesus. That's the first step. Poverty and spirit is the only way to discover salvation and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This, my beloved friends, is like a debit card that is handed to you with no limit on credit. In fact, it takes you up all of the steps for all the other qualification for true happiness. You say, how come? Well, with Jesus, the way up is down, and you must begin at the bottom. You must start at the first rung. That's the beginning, but it doesn't stop there. Humbly acknowledging your desperation for God, you'll see it continues on in that superstructure, the Beatitudes. You go from brokenness before God, declaring emptiness and bankruptcy in self.
It begins there, then it moves on forward to mourning over sin, not taking pride in it, but mourning over it to meekness, which is power under control, and on and on and on. But everything in the Christian life, everything begins with the brokenness of spirit, brokenness on the inside. There's something else here I don't want you to miss, why being broken on the inside, or being poor in spirit, is the first rung of the ladder. It's because you have to stay broken all the way up and all the way to heaven to the top of the ladder, experiencing poverty and spirit, not just a one-time experience and then you get over it now. No, no, no, no. It start at salvation and it continues for the rest of your earthly life as a believer in Jesus.
Maybe that's why I cry so much more now than I did when I was younger. And I'm happy about it. I'm increasingly, increasingly broken before God. Ever since that day in 1964, I am more and more broken spirit every day, every year that passes, and I could not be more happy. My contentment cannot be greater. My joy cannot be sweeter, even though my brokenness is on the increase. Beloved, listen to me. Don't ever fall in the trap of thinking that only the big shots, the arrogant, the celebrities, the haughty, are the ones who matter. No and a million noes. Jesus said it is to the contrary. Brokenness on the inside is the evidence of true happiness.
Hear me right. It's only when you realize that you have no bargaining power with God. A lot of people want to bargain with God, and that's what people want to do. "God, I do this for you, and you do this for me, God". No, no, no, no, no. It is only when you realize that you have no bargaining power with God, no personal credit, other than his righteousness that he credits you, that when you only ask for mercy and have nothing to give back in exchange, it is only when you are spiritually bankrupt and desperate for him, when you realize that you cannot broker a deal with God, when you realize that you are totally at his mercy, only then can you shout for joy.
You can shout for joy. The tragedy is that the further we depart from the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we will look for things to make us happy, and they never will because the first step on the road to happiness is brokenness over my sin. Not this, "Well, you know, well, 'cause everybody makes mistakes. And, you know, who are you to judge? And, you know, nobody's perfect. We all know, we're all broken. Everybody's broken. This is a broken world. No, this is, well, sinners, and God understands". No, no. These are all excuses to continue in sin, but it's what you do about it is what brings your happiness, or lack thereof. Nothing will make you happy, except poverty and spirit. Listen to me. Happiness can never be found in philosophy. Voltaire was the most ardent opponent of the Christian faith. Listen to what he wrote. "I wish I had never been born". Happiness cannot be found in fleeting pleasure.
Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure and he wrote, "The worm, and the canker, and the grief are all mine alone". Happiness cannot be found in money. There was a man by the name of Jay Gould who had a ton of money but he wrote, "I suppose I'm the most miserable man on earth". Happiness is not certainly found in position or fame. Lord Beaconsfield had a fair share of both and yet he wrote, "Youth is a mistake. Manhood is a struggle, old age is a regret. Blessed, happy, fortunate, makarios are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".
Question. So, what is poverty in spirit? What is poverty in spirit? I'm glad you asked because I really want to answer that. And I want to explain it because sometimes using the word "poor" is really in the way we use it today and the way it was used in the time of Jesus are very different. Because today if somebody who doesn't have money, homeless, somebody is we call poor, he's poor. Or if somebody's not doing well at school, they say, "Well, he's doing poorly in school". Or if somebody's health is deteriorating, "He's doing poorly," right?
That's how we use the word. But poor in spirit does not mean that a person doing poorly spiritually. It doesn't mean that at all. If somebody is not praying, not spending time with God and the Word of God is not doing anything for God say, "Well, he's..." But no, no, no, no, no, that's not what it means. That's not what it means. Poor in spirit means being conscious of my personal emptiness without God. Poor in spirit is an indication that you recognize that you cannot save yourself.
It is when the Holy Spirit reveals to me that my true sinful nature and my sinfulness and that I no longer deceive myself in thinking that I'm a good guy, or I'm a good person. I'm a good... no, no, no, no, no. It is a discovery that all of my self-righteousness is but a filthy rag in the sight of God. Poor in spirit is the awakening of my spirit in recognizing that the my performance is not acceptable to God, but only Jesus's work on the cross on my behalf is my only hope to be accepted by God.
Poverty and spirit is when I recognize that without Jesus, I was heading for eternal hell and destruction. There's something else I don't want you to miss. It doesn't mean that when you come to Jesus confessing your sin, repenting of your sin, and receiving him as your only Savior and Lord, confessing your poverty of spirit, that he's gonna give you happiness. "Here it is". No. Poverty in spirit is happiness because the reward is heaven for that poverty of spirit. Listen to me. Happiness is a consequence, not a reward. The King of the kingdom does not bestow gifts to make you happy, but rather he creates a condition within you to enable you to discover happiness and contentment.
Listen to me. Happiness is an inside job. Can you say that with me? "Happiness..." Not on the outside. Happiness has deep roots, not outward circumstances. How does this work? You don't find happiness in marriage. Hello. "Oh, I know if I get married, I just marry the right person, I'm gonna be happy". Let me tell you something. You won't find happiness in marriage. You take happiness to marriage. You do not find happiness in the job, no matter how good it is. You take happiness to the job. You do not find happiness in the church. No, you take happiness to the church. Can I get an amen? And if you want to be governed by the King, begin and continue to keep on confessing your brokenness before him.
Keep on confessing your spiritual bankruptcy without God. Keep on it. Keep at it. Those who are poor in spirit are those to whom the pride of the will, and the pride of the intellect, and the pride of the heart, are bending to the King. Poverty in spirit emanates from the very act of submission. Here's the secret to continuous happiness. I'm going to the end now. Here's the secret to continuous happiness because those elations you get because of some circumstances, they just, they come and go. I'm talking about continuous happiness. You want to know the secret to continuous happiness, do you?
Stay broken before God. You don't depart from that brokenness and move on to mourning over your sin as the next Beatitude. No, no, no, no, no. You stay broken all the way up the stairs, all the way. You stay broken. In fact, in my case, as I already told you, that brokenness started some 50 years ago plus. It grows deeper and deeper and deeper as I climb those stairs. But within that brokenness, I discovered contentment and joy inexplicable.
One last thing I'll tell you before I conclude. Brokenness is the foundation. It's a start, but continues. The rest of the Beatitudes build on that foundation. They build on that foundation. That superstructure. The reward for brokenness is the same as being persecuted. When you go home, read it, read it carefully. It's the same for being persecuted for the sake of Christ. Did you notice why? I'm telling you why. Because heaven is as good as it gets. There are some preachers saying your best life is now, not on your life. If this is the best life, I want you to keep it. Heaven is as good as it gets. Heaven is beyond description. Heaven is beyond imagination. Heaven is your greatest inheritance.