Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins with a list of blessings called the beatitudes. The second of these blessings, found in Matthew 5:4 is “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
What does that mean?
To mourn?

Our most obvious assumption is a logical one, that we mourn death.
And there is certainly a comfort and solace in having a love one who has walked with the Lord pass on. That though there is sorrow, there is rejoicing over the goodness of God and the hope we have as believers in Jesus Christ.
As Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:13: “we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”
But the scope of what’s being said is not just mourning death.
We mourn the sin that is in the world. In the media, there’s a slogan “if it bleeds, it leads.”
There’s modern day slavery. The United Nations estimates that there are currently between 27 and 30 million slaves worldwide. It’s a $150 billion dollar industry.
There’s global human trafficking for prostitution and sexual exploitation.
We have conflicts in the Middle East, parts of Africa, Asia. Even in our own continent, there is a bloody drug war being fought in Mexico. Since 2007, upwards of 200,000 have been killed.
Nationally, there’s an epidemic of drug abuse. The Center Disease Control estimates that in 2016, more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in that year alone.
Well over a half million babies are aborted every year. Since 1970, there have been more than 44 million abortions in the United States.
There are sins of racism and injustice.
In our nation, many institutions have been under attack. And we could go on and on. The world is a dark place. And as Christians, we should be aware of these realities.
We see the sinfulness of a world that needed a savior. We see that the world has gone a direction it wasn’t meant to, that it’s not as it is supposed to be.
But the hope is in Christ.
Romans 8:21-22 says “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
And so it is good to mourn sin. And in that, may we continually be reminded of the work that God is doing, that the gospel message that is being proclaimed, in the future hope we have when God will finally make all things new.
We mourn our own sins.
But the mourning is also a matter of mourning our own personal sins.
Are you poor in Spirit? Do you recognize that the reason why God accepts you is entirely because of his grace?
Do you mourn sin? Do you have a hatred for sin, a righteous loathing for sin?
Do you ever lose sleep at night, thinking about sin?
Do you ever feel guilt or shame because of sin?
Our society certainly doesn’t. Our world revels in sin, it affirms sin. It minimizes the cost of sin. It makes excuses for sin. It blames others for sin.
But there is an important aspect of Spirituality to mourning your sin.
The Bible has much to say about our sin, even for those who are in Christ, walking with the Lord. And we should rejoice and praise God because he has redeemed us from darkness to light. But that is not a call to being oblivious to your sin.
Salvation is not a license to go through life and ignore sin or to pretend it doesn’t exist, or that it’s not a struggle.
You can’t combat sin without knowing you’re sinful.
It is extremely difficult to appreciate how great the grace of Christ is if we don’t understand how sinful we are. If we don’t understand the tremendous cost of sin.
I can think of three reasons why we mourn sin in our own lives.
1. Even though the person who trusts in Christ is forgiven their sins, our sins still have an impact on our lives. We can have areas of sin in our lives that are such habits, such patterns, that they’re struggles potentially for the rest of life.
Romans 7:22-23  “I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,  but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.”
The person who is in Christ is forgiven, but that doesn’t make sin good.
2. Even though there is forgiveness for sin, our sin still impacts other people.
Our society likes to be so compartmentalized, likes to be so private and individualistic, that it can be tempting to think “it’s my life, these are my problems,” but sin does not happen in isolation. It does not just impact us. It impacts those who are close to us. It impacts people in our lives.
Proverbs 28:13 says “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
3. We are called to repent from our sin.
Jesus says at the beginning of his ministry, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17).”
Jesus says in Luke 13: unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Repentance is a result of sincere faith.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
The good news.
There is comfort for those who mourn.
As we mourn sin, the comfort is knowing there is grace. There is forgiveness. That it’s not about what you do.
That you do not measure up, but Jesus does.
John Newton wrote that great hymn Amazing Grace. Towards the end of his life, he said: “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”
As great as our sin is, Christ is greater.
As lowly as we are, as poor in Spirit as we are, as unworthy as we are, Jesus came to save.
And when you’re at your lowest. And when you feel like you’re not good enough, that you’re not worthy, instead of that fear and angst, may their be comfort. Because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Because you can be forgiven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
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Josh Benner has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has served churches in Minnesota and Illinois. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in St. Louis.