“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
–Matthew 5:3 (NLT)
According to the magazine Psychology Today, happiness is both electrifying and elusive. The author of this article says that this quality of being seems to be linked to satisfaction and contentment. But please notice the word “seems”. While mortal man searches for happiness, this quality often finds us when we least expect it.
Many people have attempted to find happiness in some crazy ways, but to find true happiness, it is imperative that we consult its author. Having said that, however, I would like to explore a few of these so-called happiness inducers with you anyway. I hope you get a laugh out of them, as I did.
If you are searching for happiness, one article suggested the practice of rubbing your ears. The authors believe that this will ease the pressure points in your body. As this occurs, depression is supposed to be alleviated. So, massagers of the world unite!
If that isn’t to your liking, don’t worry–eat pickles! I know it sounds crazy, but another article claims that eating pickles will often boost your mood and help relieve anxiety. In other words, a pickle a day keeps anxiety away. I’ll let you try that and see if it works for you.
My favorite article, however, spoke about joining the International Banana Club. The club president says that his purpose in founding this organization was to make people smile more often. Not a bad goal, wouldn’t you agree? But let’s examine that goal more closely.
The president wants to do this by promoting a sense of personal recognition. So if you want to stand out from the crowd, go on a banana eater’s picnic. Just what you’ve always wanted, right? I don’t think so.
But especially as a follower of Christ, the question all of us have to ask is: Am I in danger of becoming a Banana Club Christian? Or rather, am I in danger of joining that club one day?
In order to answer these questions, we need to look at the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus told us about the characteristics of a Banana Club member in the Beatitudes. If you don’t think Jesus said anything about the Banana Club in the gospels, you might be surprised as you read them again.
Instead of talking about looking for personal recognition, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” You’ll be glad to know that the kind of poverty He spoke about that day was not necessarily physical or financial. He made it clear that having an attitude of spiritual bankruptcy before a holy God is more important than owning earthly riches. A sense of humility before the loving, pure and righteous God of the Bible, however, flies in the face of our “me first” world. Unfortunately, many of us who claim to be Christians cling to a Banana Club mentality.
By criticizing the pharisees, the card-carrying Banana Club members of their day, we pinpoint their faults. This is easy to do, but we often excuse these same faults within ourselves. While the actions of the unbelieving pharisees were wrong, we need to do a little self-examination. Just like them, we do much the same things when we want to stand out in the crowd.
“Wait a minute!” you say. “That’s not me.”
While that is between you and God, I, for one, know that I often have to fight the enemy called self-righteousness. If I am not careful, I can talk about me too much.
But there is good news–you don’t have to resign yourself to the Banana Club’s values. Jesus told all of us to take up our crosses daily, while denying ourselves. So let’s look at how being poor in spirit and taking up our crosses are linked together.
Denying self and taking up your cross is basically saying no to fleshly appitites, like living for self-recognition. These appitites are contrary to God’s purpose and plan, and they tend to hold us down.
God wants His children to be happy, and to live above the circumstances that would bind us. But we can only do that by living in His strength, and by putting God and others first.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, but if you want to live a life that is fulfilling, look to Jesus. When all the layers are peeled away, Jesus will give you lasting happiness, even after the Banana Club has split.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6498. When prompted, press 1 for live chat rooms, and we’ll be waiting in room 31. You can press pound to bypass our friend Sharon’s intro message once you’ve entered room 31. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.