Beatitudes Attitude: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

iStock-453104097Last week, we began discussing the Beatitudes, which are some of the most popular verses in the Bible. They were delivered in Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. We’ve already begun to discuss how we’ve heard these “Blessed are those” verses whether we grew up in church or not, but we may not know exactly what they mean.

Today, we are moving on to discuss the second Beatitude, which is found in Matthew 5:4:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

This particular verse is often quoted and used in sympathy cards. No matter what our spiritual beliefs, everyone wants to believe there will be an end to mourning and sadness. We want to believe pain will cease. Therefore, it’s easy to see why so many people cling to this beatitude during difficult times.

However, as you will see, this verse may not mean what you think it means. Nevertheless, the internal truth Jesus was preaching to his followers is still one we should try to follow in our own lives. As we discussed last week, if the beatitudes are about the heart, they’re a great guide and help to changing our internal nature.

In the case of “blessed are those who mourn,” Jesus is once again speaking about our internal character. In this beatitude, He is calling those who mourn their sins “blessed” and promising comfort. Let’s dive into this beatitude to see how it can shape our lives.

Not Mourning Worldly Sorrows

While this verse is often used to comfort those who are dealing with hard losses like the death of a loved one or severe depression, this is not what this particular verse is discussing. Don’t get me wrong – God is our comforter, and He hurts when we are hurting. But, this sermon was focused on teaching Jesus’ followers on how to live their lives.

In this case, those who mourn are not mourning the sorrows of the world such as death, failure, or suffering. It is not speaking about those mourning the immediate consequences of sin.  Specifically, Jesus is telling his followers that those who despise their sin and are broken over their sin are blessed.

Going Beyond Mourning the Consequences of Sin

It is natural to feel pain over the consequences of sin. Even those who do not believe in God, feel sorrow over their mistakes. However, if someone wants to make a heart change, he or she cannot merely feel bad about their sin. Instead, they must move beyond mourning the consequences of sin to genuinely mourning their sin and despising it.

“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die;
but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
– Romans 8:13

Think about it this way – do you know anyone who has made a series of bad decisions? Even though this individual suffers from his decisions, he continues to make poor choices. This is because his character has not been changed, nor has he learned from his past mistakes. However, when people are broken over their sin, their character changes because their heart changes.

What Godly Sorry Looks Like

This is where the phrase “godly sorrow” comes in. There is a difference between feeling sorry over a mistake and feeling godly sorrow. If we are only concerned with how the outcomes affect us, then we are not experiencing godly sorrow. In contrast, godly sorrow means we are broken at how our sin has affected our relationship with God and others. Godly sorrow comes from understanding our need for God and His mercy as we learned in our discussion of Matthew 5:3. Most importantly, godly sorrow always leads to true repentance.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that
leads to salvation and leaves no regret,
but worldly sorrow brings death.”
– 2 Corinthians 7:10

Sorrow for the Sins of Others

In addition to being sorrowful for our own sin, this beatitude also suggests we should mourn the sins of others. By understanding that we cannot make heart changes on our own, we understand our need for help from a Savior. Our hearts should be broken for our friends whose sins have placed them in harmful patterns and separated them from Jesus.

“Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will
save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
– James 5:20

For They Will Be Comforted

The second half of this verse promises those who mourn (their sin) comfort. Hallelujah! Recognizing our own sin hurts, but when we do, we are told we will be comforted. Part of true repentance is asking forgiveness for the hurt and pain our sin caused. Those who believe have been told their sins will be forgiven (1 John 1:9). Therefore, upon mourning our sin and repenting, we will find comfort and a sense of peace and restoration with God.

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” - Isaiah 61:1-3

Find Comfort in the Gospel

Ultimately, if you want to change, you must see your need for change and be broken over your sin. This is what we have learned in the first two beatitudes. Throughout the gospel, there are verses promising comfort, and we find it through the Holy Spirit and on the day when we meet our Savior face to face.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”
– Revelation 21:4