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Good Mourning!

Good Mourning!

Last week we began looking at the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus stated that these characteristics in our life would bring about a "blessed" or happy life.

The first beatitude is, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” We saw that we need to realize our utter spiritual destitution in order to be blessed and receive the Kingdom of Heaven. When we realize our spiritual poverty, depend on the Lord for mercy and grace, and follow Jesus in baptism and service, we begin to enjoy the Kingdom of Heaven, a place of love, peace, joy, and God’s presence.

Furthermore, we saw that “poor in spirit” has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with being humble; the opposite of being prideful and self-centered; that we must admit to God that we are nothing and empty without Him; that we cannot think higher of ourselves then we should, nor are we better than anyone else.

This morning we will look at the second Beatitude in Matt 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”

It is hard for us to fathom the truth in this statement. Because to our worldly mindset, it just doesn’t make sense. How can one be happy or blessed while mourning?

Again like last week, for us to really understand what Jesus is saying, we first have to look at what He is not saying.

Jesus is not talking about depressed, unhappy, hopeless, or desperate people who reject God or His Word.

Jesus does not mean that mourning by itself is a blessing. In fact, some mourning is cursed. For example, Amnon mourned because his lust was not fulfilled by his half-sister, Tamar. (2 Sam.13v2). Ahab mourned because he could not get Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21v4).

Jesus is not talking about a state of self-pity and false humility, which is sinful. So what is He telling us?

1. Those of us who have been around for a while know what it is to mourn over some personal loss. Many of you have mourned more than once in your life. Perhaps you grieved at the death of a parent, a child, a mate, or a friend. Others of you have mourned over the loss of a job, or a personal rejection, or a loss of health or property. Mourning over these things is natural. If we go to the Lord during our time of mourning instead of blaming God for our loss, Jesus is promising to comfort us. We understand this blessing, for we have experienced it, but there is much more to what Jesus is saying.

2. There is the mourning caused by the sin, sorrow, and suffering in the world. One of our problems today is that we have become desensitized to the problems of the real world. We have become so accustomed to the make-believe, gory violence on television and in the movies that many could care less for human life. We even go so far as to make heroes out of criminals who commit such horrible acts. We have come to the place where those who really care about human life have become the enemies of society.

Jer. 6:15 Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them," says the LORD.

Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet. It seems that he was about the only one who literally wept over the persistent sin of his nation and the coming destruction because of that sin.

Our Lord also grieved over His world and on at least two occasions, Jesus wept.

a. Jesus wept at the death of a friend. Lazarus had died and He wept with Mary and Martha. He demonstrated that He understands our pain when someone dies. John 11:32-35 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied.  Jesus wept. 

b. Jesus wept over a lost city. Luke 19:41-44 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."

Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem because they rejected the opportunity to experience His salvation and peace. He wept because they remained in their lost condition. As a result of their rejection of Him, they faced impending judgment. Because of this Jesus wept.

Do we weep over the things that caused Jesus to weep? We live in a world that is lost but somehow we, who are Christians, no longer mourn over the fact that people are lost without Jesus Christ and they face eternity in Hell. We have forgotten our commission to go and make disciples. We have stopped praying for a revival. However, there are exceptions. If we mourn like Jesus mourns, the Holy Spirit empowers us to do extraordinary things.

For example, on the morning of October 2, 2006, a milkman, troubled by demons, named Charles Carl Roberts, barricaded himself inside the West Nickel Mine Amish School, ultimately murdering five young girls and wounding six others. Roberts committed suicide when police arrived on the scene. It was a dark day for the Amish community, but it was also a dark day for Marie Roberts—the wife of the murderer—and her two young children.

A surprising thing happened on the following Saturday. Marie experienced something truly countercultural while attending her husband’s funeral. That day, she and her children watched as Amish families—about half of the 75 mourners present—came and stood alongside them in the midst of their own blinding grief. Despite the crime her husband had perpetrated, the Amish came to mourn the fate of Charles Carl Roberts and to comfort his wife and children.

Bruce Porter, a fire department chaplain who attended the service, described what moved him most about the gesture: "It’s the love, the forgiveness, the heartfelt forgiveness they have toward the family. I broke down and cried seeing it displayed." He added that Marie Roberts was also touched. "She was absolutely, deeply moved by the love shown."

Rom 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

For those who mourn over the sin in the world and its consequences, Jesus says they are blessed because they identify with Him, they are close to Him, and He comforts them with the Holy Spirit, who gives them faith and power to carry out His commission; understanding Jesus has everything under control, and He is coming back again to judge the world and take them home.

John 16:20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

3. It is not only the sins of others that should cause mourning, for we have our own sins to grieve over as well. Our sins grieve God and therefore they should grieve us, too. Our intimate relationship with God is impaired when we sin, and this causes us to feel cast down and remorseful. This mourning drives us back to Jesus in repentance. Our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is revived and we are comforted. Then peace returns and joy is restored.

Ps 32:1-5 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

The very fact that we can still mourn over our sin is a good sign because that godly grief will lead us to repentance. The person who can no longer grieve over sin is in a perilous condition. Most likely, they will continue to commit this same sin because it doesn’t bother them enough to mourn over it. On the other hand, the person whose heart is broken, because of sin, will be comforted and strengthened against the temptation to commit that sin again.

This is also true for the lost person. The first step in repentance and restoration is recognition of our sinful condition before God and become “poor in spirit”. Step two is to mourn, to grieve, to sorrow over our sin. Such "godly sorrow" brings repentance and drives us to Jesus.

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

The reason those who mourn are blessed is because of the comfort available. Our grief and our sorrow over our sin should be painful—so painful that we never want to do it again. This pain and grief also drives us to the source of all comfort, our Lord Himself, who gives us the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit brings us life, hope, love, peace, and joy. The joy of the Lord becomes our strength and a witness to the world of our salvation in Christ.

Jer. 31:13 Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.  

Oswald Chambers said, “Should we not see that lines of laughter about the eyes are just as much marks of faith, as are the lines of care and seriousness? Is laughter pagan? We have already allowed too much that is good to be lost to the church and cast many pearls before swine. A church is in a bad way when it banishes laughter from the sanctuary and leaves it to the cabaret, the nightclub, and the toastmasters”.

Joy and laughter are blessings to a Christian, but they come after a time of mourning. Most people hate mourning and they try to avoid it completely. Some laugh when they ought to cry over their sinfulness and the effects it has on our world. They think it is no “big deal” because everyone sins. They think you are crazy if you mourn over your own sinfulness and the effect it has on your relationship with Christ! Although they are laughing, they have missed the blessing of God’s comfort and their laughter is not true joy.

And sadly, this same attitude has crept into the church as well. Some people actually think that if we are good Christians, filled with the Spirit of God, we will not experience sorrow and ought to never mourn. However, Jesus wept. He wept over sin and its consequences, which are the death and destruction to those He loves.

Some preachers never speak about sin, because they are scared it will make people unhappy and leave the church. Instead, they preach about self-esteem, health, wealth, and prosperity. The result is a religion called “Christianity” that is pathetic and not real. True Christianity is marked by what we mourn over and what we laugh about, and they must be the same things Jesus mourns over and laughs about.

Consequently, to mourn over our sinfulness is not an optional thing for real Christians. The saddest thing in life is a heart that is incapable of grief over sin, because such a state of heart cannot know the forgiveness and comfort of God.

Just as it is true, that without poverty of spirit, no one receives the kingdom of Heaven—in the same way, no one receives God’s forgiveness and comfort, who do not truly mourn over their sinfulness. The basis of our being comforted comes as a result of God’s forgiveness of our sins, and only true believers in Christ Jesus can be free from the guilt of their sins and receive Christ’s righteousness.

In other words, this comfort and forgiveness is exclusively for those people who truly mourn over their sins, and them alone. The blessing of comfort is immediate and we are given the righteousness of Christ now and into eternity. That is why we are called “blessed” or “approved by God” after we mourn over our sin. The Holy Spirit fills us with love for Jesus and out of this love we desire to live for Him.

James 4:8-10, Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Therefore, if a spirit of mourning over your sinfulness is welling up within you, then let your mourning cause you to fall upon the Lord Jesus Christ and He will lift you up to serve Jesus and comfort others.

The good news is that you and I don’t have to continue mourning over our own sins. We can come to Jesus. We can be comforted and lifted up to serve Jesus and comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Comforting is part of God’s being and it speaks of His concern to relieve sorrow or distress, to cheer up, and to encourage. God’s presence through the Holy Spirit will change our hearts, minds, and character. God knows about your sin and sorrow, and He is willing to comfort you by being present and by sending someone to encourage you. After you have been comforted and strengthened, He will send you to someone else to be His hand of comfort.

The saddest thing in life is not a sorrowing heart, but a heart that is incapable of mourning over sin. One of the great functions of the Cross is to open the eyes of men and women to the horror of sin. If you can’t imagine the horror, try watching the “Passion of Christ”, and perhaps the Holy Spirit will reveal it to you. When a man sees his sin in all its horror, he either experiences intense sorrow for his sin or he hardens his heart.

Blessed is the man who is intensely sorry for his sin, the man who is heart-broken for what his sin has done to Jesus Christ and to others. Why does this mourning over our sin make us blessed? We are blessed because God will not reject us; instead, we will be forgiven and comforted.

To find this comfort, begin where Jesus began with the first beatitude; admit that you are sinful, poor in spirit. The first step towards God is the recognition that we are sinners in desperate need of a Savior. That idea is frowned upon by the world today. However it is the first step in becoming a blessed person.

The second step is the second beatitude, which is also frowned upon by the world. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”. Note the progression. The first step of a blessed life is the recognition that we are poor in spirit—that we have a deep need in our lives, a need caused by our sin. The second step is to mourn over our sin, repent, and be baptized. Then the Holy Spirit will come into your life and bring you a peace and comfort that surpasses all your wildest dreams.