Continued from Part 1…
After choosing the need to be poor in spirit as the first of the attitudes that a true child of God should have, Jesus went on to say:
Blessed are those who mourn. (verse 4)
This seems like an odd thing for Jesus to say. Are those that mourn really happy? According to Jesus, godly mourning is another one of those graces that is necessary for a Christ-follower to be truly happy. Another way to put it would be to say, Blessed, happy, or joyful are those who mourn. First of all, we need to determine what it is that is being mourned.
A quality that has nearly been lost–at least in much of the world, is a genuine sorrow for sin. When we read accounts of great revivals that have passed through history, something that has always been a part of each of these great encounters with God, is a deep recognition of sin by the one coming before God for mercy. In fact, the word “repentance” is for the most part, avoided today. Real sorrow, or true remorse has almost been lost in this modern self-centered age. True remorse has been replaced with, at best, regret. A person can feel regret because they were caught doing wrong. Remorse however, speaks of a true mourning for finding oneself in a place of spiritual separation from God. True remorse used to commonly bring tears and often a great crying out to God for mercy.
Not only is the word “repent” rare today, so is the word “sin”. We have become too sophisticated, or maybe we think we are too enlightened for such degrading descriptives! God’s opinion however differs from ours, and it is His view of things that we must recognize because it is the difference between spiritual and eternal life or spiritual and eternal death. There are many Scriptures describing what our true spiritual condition is without the sovereign intervention offered through the Blood of Jesus. Let’s look at a passage in Ephesians 2:
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of his grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10
We find a Scripture in the Book of Zechariah where God himself describes a spirit of mourning that comes from true repentance. It is a prophecy of the future when the Jewish people finally recognize that they missed their Messiah 2,000 years ago. This is what Zechariah wrote in chapter 12, verses 10 and 11:
And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem…
The Bible also describes another kind of mourning. There is a mourning that demonstrates itself as a compassion for those who are experiencing difficult times; those that have lost a loved one or have experienced a tragedy of some other kind.The Apostle Paul put it simply in Romans 12:15-16:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another…
There is also a mourning in our souls for those who are not walking in a right relationship with God. This can be a mourning for an individual, a group of people, or even a nation. A picture of this is found in Luke 19:41-44 where Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem just days before His crucifixion and wept over their spiritual blindness of its people.
Now as He drew near; He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.
Jesus makes two specific promises to those that know the true meaning of mourning in verse 4. The first is that they would be blessed. What a greater way to be blessed is there than having the complete assurance of God’s forgiveness of sin and eternal right-standing with Him? There is nothing greater! Of all the religions in the world, it is only Christianity that promises true eternal forgiveness, and that is through the Blood of the one and only Perfect Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. Because His Blood is the only payment for sin, the only thing that all other religious systems in this world can offer, is to teach their followers that they need to do all they can to try and earn God’s favor by their good deeds or by through some means of penance. A person doesn’t have to search very far to find photos of people all around the world who participate in marches through the streets, beating themselves, cutting themselves, or other means of injuring themselves and causing pain. For what? To try and earn the favor of some false god? God’s favor cannot be earned! But assurance of forgiven sin is offered for free…to anyone who recognizes their utter lost condition and also recognizes that the Blood of Jesus provides the only remedy for that lost condition. In Romans 10:9-13 we find this put into easy to understand words:
…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
The second promise Jesus made to those who mourn is that they will be comforted. The “comfort” Jesus is speaking of here is not always realized immediately. Sometimes we expect that our prayers will bring immediate relief and quick tangible results. God does answer our prayers but not always in the way we expect. God’s timing does not usually match our expectation either. This is difficult for us to accept because our situation so often feels like an emergency that needs answering right away. Then, when our answer doesn’t come fast enough, we begin to advise God on the timing He should follow! The eighth chapter of Romans has an interesting passage which touches on this very subject. Not only are we given a promise but we are also shown how the Holy Spirit operates through our prayer life. We will start our reading in verse 26:
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28
There are many things about our Christian walk with God in this life that are hard to understand. We don’t understand why God doesn’t answer as fast as we think we need Him to. We don’t understand why God does not sovereignley intervene in situations where we think the Kingdom of God would be better served if He did…yet, He fails to do so! Why does God allow such suffering? Why does God allow evil to prosper whereas God’s people often suffer great loss? We even sometimes wonder if God is working against us instead of for us! We also ask God why it seems like the heavens are like brass to our prayers. There are of course many more questions than these. God does not give us all the answers, but He does promise that He will guide us through all the difficulties in this life. This would be a good time to look at what we find written in Psalms, chapter 37:
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret–it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off…Psalm 37:7-8
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way, though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand. Psalm 37:23-24
But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him. Psalm 37:39-40
There are many Scriptures that mention the importance for believers and followers of Jesus Christ to trust God in all things. We find ourselves mourning many times in life, for one reason or another, but it is our genuine trust in the Lord that promises the Godly comfort promised in Matthew 5:2. Another passage from the Psalms we should read is found in Psalm 126.
Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:5-6
The ways of God are quite contrary to the carnal ways of man. The religious ways of man are often even more opposed to the ways of God. Our God, who keeps accurate records of all things, Who does not allow one thought, intent of the heart, or fact pertaining to the lives of His children be lost, has a record book where everything is recorded. This book is called the Book of Remembrance. We find the prophet Malachi referring to this book.
Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him, for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, on the day that I make them My jewels,and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him. Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. Malachi 3:16-18
This means that no matter what happens in life, no matter what people think, no matter what people say, no matter how people view things, no matter what facts are not brought out in the open, God knows each and every single detail and won’t allow them to be lost. God knows our thoughts and knows the depth of how the Word of God and the leading of His Spirit governs our actions. This includes the godly mourning of Matthew 5:4 that so often becomes a part of our lives. God sees it. He knows our burden and He knows what causes it. But, He not only knows about it, but helps us walk it out to our own spiritual edification and strengthening.
After speaking about the value of true godly mourning, Jesus went on to the third item having to do with the “Be” Attitudes…
To Be Continued in Part Three