Summary: Introduction The way to happiness is outlined in the first twelve verses of Matthew 5. Last Sunday we noted that the word translated "blessed" in the Beatitudes may also be translated "happy." In the first beatitude Jesus said the initial step toward hap
Sorrow-The Way to Happiness
Text: "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" (Matt. 5:4).
The way to happiness is outlined in the first twelve verses of Matthew 5. Last Sunday we noted that the word translated "blessed" in the Beatitudes may also be translated "happy." In the first beatitude Jesus said the initial step toward happiness is humility-being "poor in spirit."
We find a very strange statement in the second beatitude: "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."
What would you think of a person who said to a crying child, "Why are you so happy?" You probably would conclude that the person is either crazy or cruel! The response to Christ’s remark that a mourning person is happy has been similar. The statement does not seem to add up.
It is here that we need to remind ourselves that the Beatitudes were not spoken to unbelievers, but to the disciples. Remember verse 1? "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him." What Jesus said regarding the way to happiness is directed to Christians alone, those who are capable of experiencing life at its highest level of happiness.
"Blessed [happy] are they that mourn." Does this refer to persons who wander around with a dismal countenance, downcast persons whom you dread to see because they are always bearers of some woeful news? Not at all! As J. B. Phillips translates this verse, Jesus says, "How happy are those who know what sorrow means, for they will be given courage and comfort!"
There are two kinds of sorrow, however. One leads to happiness and the other to misery. One carries with it a blessing and the other none at all. One leads to life and the other to death. Paul distinguished between the two in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10. One he called "godly sorrow" and the other he called "worldly sorrow." He explained, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death" (v.10 NIV). To understand this beatitude and experience the happiness it promises, we need to recognize sorrow that leads to misery and sorrow that leads to happiness.
I. Sorrow that leads to misery.
When Jesus said’, "Blessed are they that mourn," he meant a different sort of mourning than what most people experience. Too often our sorrow is the wrong kind. It is what Paul called "worldly sorrow [that] brings death" (2 Cor. 7:10 NIV).
But exactly what type of sorrow leads to misery?
A. Sorrow because of getting caught. Remember, "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked" (Ps. 32:10). And one of their many sorrows is that of getting caught. The thief who is arrested, the drug pusher who is apprehended, the student who cheats, or the husband or wife who is unfaithful may be sorry to have been caught, but this sorrow has no blessing because it is void of repentance. Our prisons house many who are sorry they were caught but who are not sorry for their sin. If given another chance, they would do the same thing again, as is evidenced by the alarming number of repeat offenders. Theirs is a sorrow that leads not to happiness but to misery.
B. Sorrow because of failing in a sinful scheme. The Bible warns us that "He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made" (Ps. 7:15 NIV) and that "[God] catches the wise in their craftiness" (1 Cor. 3:19 NIV). For example, a man wrecked his car and its frame is bent. He has the body repaired and painted and then attempts to sell it without telling the prospective buyer the whole truth. Liking the car, the buyer takes it for a test drive and has a mechanic friend look it over. To his trained eye the bent frame is obvious. The buyer returns the damaged vehicle and the sale falls through. The owner is sorry but only because he failed in his scheme to deceive another. This same type of sorrow may result from failure to destroy another’s reputation or failure to be accepted as more than we know ourselves to be.
C. Sorrow because of the consequence suffered. Sorrow for consequences rather than for sin leads to misery. Simon the sorcerer thought Peter and John had magic more powerful than any he knew about, so he offered them money and said, "’Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ Peter answered: ’May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.’ Then Simon answered, ’Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me"’ (Acts 8:19-24 NIV). Simon did not seem to be sorry for his sin but rather asked Peter to pray so its consequences might be removed.