Title: The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches about Finding True Happiness
Author: Dr. Derwin L. Gray
Major Themes: Bible Studies, Christian Living, Devotionals, Jesus
Synopsis: This book explores the ways each verse from the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount can apply to our modern lives today.
I don’t remember my initial reason for getting The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches about Finding True Happiness, but I do remember wondering, when it landed in my inbox, what I was thinking when I asked to read and review it. I don’t read books about how to find true happiness! Though it’s something that, naturally, I’m interested in, I don’t want to read books about how to find it. I believe Jesus can give me all the happiness and joy I need, and trying to find it for myself, my own way? That’s a recipe for trouble. But since I’d asked for it, I needed to read it—after all, that little agreement about leaving a review after getting the book meant that I had to actually read the book.
Once I got a few chapters in, I was startled, surprised, and thankful to realize that this book was quite good. Good enough, in fact, that I was highlighting different lines I wanted to remember as I progressed. (I’ll share a few of those throughout this review, to give you a taste of the book.) My initial thought of “What were you thinking?” turned into the delight that I could actually learn from this book—that it was a bigger blessing to me than I thought it would be.
“Jesus knew the secret to happiness. Jesus knew that his happiness had to be entrenched in something that was beyond this world but that gave him the grace to live here.” —Derwin Gray
This book is a verse-by-verse study of the Beatitudes, with each verse having its own chapter. Although that’s a passage I have memorized, I realized I hadn’t generally taken much thought as to how those verses could be applied to my life, or what they meant for us in the times we live in now. Gray pulled a lot more out of them than I thought was there, and I found his observations both fascinating and encouraging.
“Our EGO, which stands for Edging God Out, tries to make us the center of the story, but Jesus, in his faithful, unending love, doesn’t want us to dehumanize ourselves by worshiping false gods.” —Derwin Gray
The seeking happiness part of the title? Well, even after reading The Good Life, I’m not sure I’m still completely on board with the word. Or at least the way the word happiness is used here, since the word I’m used to in reference to the Sermon on the Mount is blessed or blessedness, which has different connotations to me than happiness. Despite that struggle with terminology, this book does point to an important fact: Our Heavenly Father is joyful. And when we do things the way He intended us to do them, we become joyful people. Following Jesus—in the ups and downs of life—is always worthwhile, and He never lets us down.
This book helped me to see this passage of scripture in a new light, and I’m thankful for that. One day, I’d love to get a print copy. I can see myself re-reading this again. Though I didn’t agree with everything in here—the author is more progressive in some ways than I am—I do appreciate the truth I was able to glean from these pages. Recommended, if you want to grow in your walk with Jesus and as part of His bride.
I was given a review copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: “Good grief” is used in ch. 1. “For goodness’ sake” is used in ch. 2, and he talks about a time he got drunk. “For goodness’ sake” is used in ch. 5. In ch. 7, “for goodness’ sake” is used again, and a question is asked about a Bible story—“Where is the man who was having s-x with the woman?” In ch. 9, “good gracious” is used.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults