Beatitudes - Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4)

The second beatitude of our Lord is a paradox, for it declares the happiness of being sad.  Specifically, the Lord spoke of the blessedness of mourning, which is sorrow and grief that is usually associated with the death of a loved one.  Most of us have suffered the loss of family members, and we know what it means to mourn, so it is difficult to understand how happiness can ever be found in mourning.  To understand this, let us look closely at the Scriptures, for the Lord has the answer.

The mourning of which Jesus spoke is not the mourning that we associate with the death of loved ones, but rather it is the spiritual mourning that accompanies the awareness of sin.  In this way, the second beatitude builds upon the first beatitude, for those who are poor in spirit will experience spiritual mourning for their sins.  Such mourning is true, godly sorrow, for when a sinner realizes the truth about his offense against God, he is crushed beneath a load of grief and despair.  A tender-hearted sinner mourns like one who has a death sentence in himself, for he learns that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

To understand this better, let us consider Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth.  In the first letter, Paul had many troubling things to write to these Christians who were spiritually immature and carnally minded.  One issue he addressed pertained to a member of the church who had committed fornication with his father’s wife.  This was such a grievous sin that not even the pagan Gentiles would engage in it, and yet the Corinthian Christians had embraced this immoral so-called brother.  Notice 1Corinthians 5:2 – “You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.”  Some time later, Paul wrote his second letter, in which he acknowledged how the Corinthian Christians had become sorrowful for their sinful ways.  Notice 2Corinthians 7:8-10:

“For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it--for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while--I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.  For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Now we can begin to see the connection between spiritual mourning and spiritual happiness.  Paul said that he rejoiced “not that [the Corinthian Christians] were made sorrowful, but that [they] were made sorrowful to the point of repentance.”  The joy of spiritual mourning and godly sorrow is not in the sorrow itself but in the outcome – “a repentance without regret, leading to salvation.”

In a way, it is the goal of gospel preaching to provoke mourning in every person who hears, for it is only through godly sorrow that any sinner will come to repentance and salvation.  Sinners who hear the gospel message and are “pierced to the heart” (Acts 2:37) and convicted by the Holy Spirit of their sin (John 16:8-11) will surely mourn unlike they have ever mourned before.  This is why sinners are commanded to mourn in James 4:8-10:

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Jas. 4:8-10)

These words echo the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 6:21, 25 – “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh…Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”

One of the best examples of mourning that leads to blessing is that of the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50.  She anointed the Lord with an alabaster vial of perfume and then wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  This woman mourned for her sinful condition with all the sorrow and grief that her heart could bear.  For this, the Lord said, “Your sins have been forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  What joy and comfort this woman found on that day!

Indeed, all who truly mourn for their sins will be comforted.  Their spiritual mourning and godly sorrow will produce repentance that leads to salvation, and there is no greater comfort than the hope of eternal salvation.  So then, there is true happiness in mourning, for faithful, penitent sinners are abundantly blessed in Jesus Christ.

Next: “Blessed Are The Meek”

Stacey E. Durham


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