Summary: 2nd sermon in an 8 part series on the Beatitudes. This series challenges us to "Shift" our thinking in what really brings true happiness. (*Refreshed with some rewrite in 8/08. Powerpoint and Video Clips available on request.)
THE JOY OF MOURNING
MATTHEW 5:4 & 2 CORINTHIANS 7:8-11
How would you define “paradox”? What is a paradox? And no, it’s not two physicians! Is a paradox a contradiction? Actually no. A contradiction is something that is wrong, two things obviously opposed. A paradox is a statement or group of statements that seem to be wrong, that go against our intuition, but actually contains truth. A paradox is puzzling... and that’s why one of the most famous paradoxical statements are the Beatitudes. Jesus uses pieces of a puzzle that don’t seem to fit and tells us, “This is how you can find true happiness, authentic joy, sacred delight.”
Jesus gives us 8 pieces to complete our puzzle of life. To the poor in spirit, to those that mourn, to the meek, those that hunger and thirst after what is right, to the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and to those who are persecuted. It’s to this band of joy seekers that God promises special blessings. But remember, the things that Jesus insists are the prerequisites to this happiness often surprise us. In fact, these few verses will demand a radical reconstruction of the heart, an extreme shift in our thinking.
Remember what we said last week. In order to have this joy we must recognize that true, lasting happiness does not depend so much on what happens around us but what happens in us; not on external circumstances but our internal attitudes. First, He says we must admit we are not good, that our life accomplishments do not impress the Creator and that we cannot save ourselves. We are to become poor in spirit, humble enough to say, "Lord, I can’t do it on my own, I depend completely on You." And that’s when we inherit His forgiveness, grace and contentment. And now, the second beatitude builds on the first. Jesus says, “Once you admit your need, then you will be happy if you will "mourn.. For then you will be comforted?" As crazy as it seems Jesus says that true happiness, begins with deep sadness. Genuine gladness comes through mourning. How can that be?
I. THE DEFINITION:
Well, let’s begin as we will each week, by defining what Jesus means. What is the definition of mourning? Let’s see what it is not. This mourning is not simply, sorrow over temporary distress or adversity. Jesus isn’t telling us that we will always be comforted when life goes bad. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, or if a family member or yourself has been diagnosed with cancer you know that there is not much comfort there. When you have financial hardship, or someone disappoints or hurts you, you will ache, you may mourn. Your adversity, in this world, may not ever be completely corrected. In fact, Jesus says in John 16:33, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows."(NLT) So, Jesus isn’t saying here, "Blessed are those who weep over loss of life or those who ache over adversity."
This mourning certainly does not refer to a blessing for the chronic complainer. You’ve heard the old saying, "The squeaky door, gets the oil," meaning.... “sometimes those who complain the loudest get the most attention.” Well, while that may be true in some aspects of the world, it is not true spiritually. God is not pleased with grumblers. Just ask any of the Israelites who had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years what God thinks of complainers. In fact, Phil.2:14 says, "do everything without complaining or arguing." (Repeat with me.) You see, Jesus says "Blessed are those that mourn," not.. "blessed are those who moan." So, Jesus is not primarily referring to the sorrow over distress and adversity that comes to us in life, nor is He promising comfort for the complainer. He is referring to something much deeper.
The word Jesus uses here is the strongest word for sorrow that could be used in the Greek language. It signifies a deep, sorrow that pierces the heart. William Barclay writes, "This sorrow is no gentle, sentimental, twilight sadness; it is a sorrow which is poignant, intense. The real meaning has to do with sorrow for sin. Jesus is saying here, ‘Blessed is the man who is moved to bitter sorrow at the realization of his own sin.’" A deep sorrow for sin and the request for forgiveness is the first act of the Christian life. The beginning of the Christian walk is the utter dissatisfaction with life as it is. You are humble enough to admit your need, (...poor in spirit)... Then based on that need, you are genuinely sorry for your sin that created that need and you desire change.
But please understand that Jesus is talking about a Godly sorrow here. Look at the passage in 2 Cor. and notice that Paul compares two kinds of sorrow. In vs:9 he says, "..you became sorrowful as God intended.." in vs:10 he says there’s Godly sorrow & worldly sorrow. There is a right way to mourn over your sin & a wrong way. Allow me to list 4 differences between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow: