“At first, I thought he was awful, but he turned out to be a nice guy.”
Think you know what that statement means? Consider the original meaning of these words:
- Awful. Something full of awe and inspiring awe.
- Nice. The word originally referred to something silly and foolish.
- Guy. This word used to refer to someone frightening. Guy Fawkes was part of an attempt to blow up the British Parliament in 1605. Afterwards, the people would burn his effigy—a “Guy Fawkes” or a “guy.”
Words change meaning over time. I’m going to give you one more example, and it will upset the churchy people in the crowd.
- Blessed. The word originally meant happy.
We don’t like to use the word “happy,” because we’ve all heard the sermons telling us that happiness is tied to our circumstances; God, on the other hand, blesses us with joy no matter the circumstances.
- “Blessed” just sounds more spiritual.
- “Happy” is a meal kids get at McDonalds.
Before anymore burns me in effigy, I’m just saying that’s what the word used to mean. We are so used to using “blessed” in a spiritual, Christ-oriented meaning that if feels sacrilegious to use it any other way.
Jesus took happiness and turned it upside down. We run in all sorts of directions to find happiness, but Jesus pinpointed the only way to any form of contentment, joy, and yes, happiness.
You want to be happy? I mean really happy? I mean live with a joy that lasts and is not tied to people, things, or circumstances? I am going to redefine happiness. It comes through:
- Being poor in spirit,
- Being meek,
- Hungering and thirsting for righteousness,
- Being merciful,
- Being pure in heart,
- Being a peacemaker,
- And, yes, being persecuted because of righteousness. (See Matt. 5:3-12.)
This flies in the face of everything Pharrell Williams tell us about being happy. But since Jesus is the One who created us, it’s safe to say He knows the best way for us to experience life, joy, contentment, and permanent happiness.
This post supports the study “Distinct in My Character” in Bible Studies for Life.