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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Blessed Are They That Mourn

Matthew 5:4  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.  In the verse before us we have one of the more striking paradoxes of the entire passage.  Happy are they that mourn??  We obviously do not naturally consider mourning as the path to happiness.  We are clearly being given principles that are from a different perspective than how we normally view things.

Another interesting facet of this beatitude is that it begs the question mourn about what?  No explanation is forth coming so we are left to search the scriptures for an answer.  Anything that causes us to search the scriptures is a good thing.

It is also interesting that living in a world where the emphasis is on personal happiness and comfort there is so little of it.  The more we make it a priority the more elusive it seems.  It is very likely that the reason for this is that we fail to understand what brings true happiness and comfort.  While mourning may not seem like a direct path to happiness and comfort it is a sure path for the scripture declares, “Happy are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.”


WHAT IT MEANS TO MOURN

First let us consider what it does not mean.  It does not mean to be of an anxious spirit.  When we are anxious we have feelings that at a minimum mimic mourning.  The Bible give clear instruction related to anxiety and being anxious.


Matthew 6:25-34  Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Philippians 4:6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

We should not be anxious about tomorrow.  We should not worry about food and raiment.  We should trust God.  Having an anxious spirit is not spiritual mourning.

It does not indicate a failure to rejoice.

Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

We are to rejoice always.  Our rejoicing is to be in the Lord.  So spiritual mourning is not the absence of rejoicing.  We can’t cloak a lack of rejoicing in the garb of spiritual mourning.

It does not mean being despondent.

1 Peter 5:7  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

We are to cast all our care upon him.  This delivers us from despondency.  There is no justification for despondency.  Being depressed and discouraged is not synonymous with mourning.

The word “mourn” means to grieve.  It can have reference to either the feeling or the act.  It is to lament!

Crabb’s English Synonyms provides the following insight into the word.  “To grieve, in its limited sense, is an inward act; to mourn is an outward act:  The grief lies altogether in the mind; the mourning displays itself by some outward mark.  One grieves for that which immediately concerns one’s self, or that which concerns others; one grieves over the loss of property; one mourns the fate of a deceased relative.  Grieve is the act of an individual; mourn may be the common act of many:  a nation mourns, though it does not grieve for a public calamity.  Grief and mourn are permanent sentiments; lament is a transitory feeling; the former are produced by substantial causes, which come home to the feelings; the latter respects things of a more partial, oftentimes of a more remote and indifferent, nature.  We lament a thing today, which we may forget tomorrow.  Mourn and lament are both expressed by some outward sign; but the former is composed and free from all noise; the latter displays itself either in cries or simple words.  In the moment of trouble, when the distress of the mind is at its height, it may break out into loud lamentation, but commonly grieving and mourning commence when lamentation ceases.”

Mourning is a state of mind.  It is the composed awareness deep in the soul of a man that acknowledges the afflictions or others and results in some outward display.  So what conclusions might we draw at this point?

Well, to begin with poverty of spirit seems to be fertile ground for a mournful demeanor.  It could be that we do not mourn, as we ought, because we are not as poor in spirit as we ought to be.  The scripture actually provides insight concerning a heart that mourns.

Psalm 34:18  The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

A broken heart and a contrite spirit.  To be broken is to be crushed, to have burst.  To be contrite is to be crushed as if made dust.  A broken heart.  A heart that has been, is crushed!  The idea of a broken and contrite heart and/or spirit is not an unfamiliar theme in the pages of the bible.  Consider:

Psalm 51:17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Isaiah 57:15  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Thus when we think about a mourning that is spiritual we are talking about a person who is so deeply affected that his heart and spirit is smitten, collapsed, and crushed to dust.

I think it is also relevant to point out that a spiritual mourning is not compatible with frivolous, vain, and sacrilegious humor.

James 4:7-10  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

There is clearly an element of spiritual vitality that is rooted in a consecrated mourning that is largely missing from most of our lives.  We would much rather be serenaded by the light hearted “don’t worry, be happy” than “be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.”  Anything that makes us happy and laugh is good and to be sought and anything that makes us heavy or afflicted is bad and is to be rejected.  This is certainly a philosophy that is appealing to the flesh but one has to wonder in the face of the admonition, “Blessed is the man that mourns; for he shall be comforted” if we have been sold a bill of goods and set on a path that will never secure what we desire happiness and comfort.

And what about Ephesians 5:3-4  But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

In most places we could probably get a room full of “amens” preaching about fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, and filthiness.  But if we moved along to foolish talking and jesting the room just might fall silent.

Foolish talking is just silly talk, buffoonery.  Let’s consult Crabb’s English Synonyms again for insight about jesting, “One jests in order to make others laugh.  The jest is directed at the object.  One attempts to make a thing laughable or ridiculous by jesting about it, or treating it in a jesting manner.  Jests are therefore seldom harmless.  The most serious subject may be degraded by being turned into a jest.  Treating a thing more lightly that it deserves.”

There are some serious issues in life.  They are not to be made light-hearted by jesting.  Sin, God, heaven, hell, preachers, preaching, death, relationships, eternity, etc., are areas in which sobriety should reign.

I know I have heard over the years plenty of foolish talking and jesting from preachers and even form the pulpit.  It is unbecoming and brings down the dignity of the office and the pulpit that should be aflame with righteousness.

In contrast a mournful heart will be a sober heart!

1 Thessalonians 5:6  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
The Lord’s coming should promote sober-mindedness.

1 Peter 4:7  But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
Eternity should promote sober-mindedness.

1 Peter 5:8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
The presence of the enemy should promote sober-mindedness.

Titus 2:6  Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
The dangers of youth should promote sober-mindedness.


WHY ARE WE TO MOURN?

We should mourn because of sin! 

We should mourn because of personal sin!

Matthew 26:75  And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.  This is a startling exampled!  When Peter was faced with the reality of his unfaithfulness he didn’t go to a support group, he didn’t take a preacher by the hand, he didn’t by a self-help book written by the latest religious sensation.  He went out and wept bitterly!  When is the last time I wept over my sin?  When is the last time you wept over your sin?

We should mourn because of corporate sin!

In our families!  Job 1:4-5  And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

In our churches!  1 Corinthians 5:1-2  It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

In our nation!  Proverbs 14:34  Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

We should mourn because of spiritual coldness!

Revelation 3:15-17  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Revelation 2:4-5  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Matthew 24:12  And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
We should mourn because of the lost!

Mourn because of their condition!

Ephesians 4:17-19  This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Mourn because of their destination!

Revelation 20:15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Psalm 9:17  The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

Mourn because of their complacency!
Acts 24:25  And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
Acts 26:28  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.


A PROMISE TO THOSE THAT MOURN

Spiritual mourning provides a present opportunity.  “Shall be comforted” is the promise.  We are blessed or happy because we will be comforted.  The comfort is promised on the premise of mourning.  Mourning is the prerequisite to being comforted.

The source of our present comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17  Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
John 14:26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

The present source of our comfort is in the triune God.  Father, Son, and Holy Ghost comforts the heart of the believer.  We can afford to mourn deeply because we have access to divine comfort!

The hope of our present comfort.

In relation to sin.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Psalm 32:5  I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
Proverbs 28:13  He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

To truly mourn over sin is to know the comfort that only God can give in forgiveness, restoration, cleansing.  It is an ongoing process.  God reveals sin, we mourn over it, God comforts us!  Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted!

In relation to the lost.

Psalm 126:6  He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Galatians 6:9  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

To truly mourn over the lost is to know the comfort that only God can give in fruit being realized.  To truly mourn over our apathy and to have God comfort us by imparting zeal and fresh devotion.  To have God comfort us with emerging opportunities.  To have God comfort us with unexpected fruit.  Passion for the lost is ultimately brought about through mourning over the lost.  If we can’t bring ourselves to mourn over the lost then we should mourn that we cannot mourn!  Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.

A future reality.

The promise will be finally and fully realized on the golden shore at the down of the eternal day!

Revelation 21:3-4  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Psalm 30:5  For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Revelation 7:17  For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Isaiah 25:8  He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the
 LORD hath spoken it.

One parting exhortation from the tongue of Jesus in Luke 6:25  Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.

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