Summary: Mourning our sins brings the comfort of Christ, and also leads us to others who mourn.

The Keys to Happiness

Key #2—Compassion

Matthew 5:1-2, 4

Ten rules for happier living:

1. Give something away (no strings attached)

2. Do a kindness (and forget it)

3. Spend a few minutes with the aged (their experience is a priceless guidance)

4. Look intently into the face of a baby (and marvel)

5. Laugh often (it’s life’s lubricant)

6. Give thanks (a thousand times a day is not enough)

7. Pray (or you will lose the way)

8. Work (with vim and vigor)

9. Plan as though you’ll live forever (because you will)

10.Live as though you’ll die tomorrow (because you will on some tomorrow)

The ten things listed make sense to us, but when we hear Jesus’ words in today’s passage of Scripture about what he says can make us happy, the words don’t quite make sense to us. But Jesus is teaching about his kingdom, and remember, his kingdom looks much different from the world his first century hearers lived in. It looks strangely different from the world we live in as well. Listen to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:1-2, and then in verse four, as we seek to discover the second key to happiness:

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: [2] And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, [4] Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Happy are the people who mourn for they shall be comforted. That makes no sense to us. What more particularly makes sense is this statement—Happy is the person who has never seen grief. Or this one—Happy is the person who has never known tears. Our philosophy of life is to avoid crying at all costs. We believe it is not good to know tears—tears of loss, tears of pain, tears of suffering. Let’s avoid them at all costs. But Jesus says that is not the case.

What does it mean to mourn? I had a secretary who was the only child left from her family. Her mother and father had passed away, and her only sister, who was an identical twin had also died. Ila would often joke that she was going to have to hire mourners for her funeral because there wasn’t going to be any family left to mourn. We laugh at that, but that is exactly what people used to do. They would hire professional mourners. Actually, they weren’t professionals, but were paid for their services. There were actually people who went from funeral to funeral making a living off the suffering of others. When a loved one died, these mourners were available, for a small fee of course, to come and make great lament for the dearly departed. Sounds fun, huh? Jesus was talking about something much more than the singular mourning for the dearly departed. These mourners were there only for window dressing.

The kind of mourning that Jesus is speaking of here comes from the strongest Greek word for sorrow. Jesus is speaking of that sorrow that pierces and breaks a person’s heart; the sorrow that is reflected in our faces and impacts our actions. The Old Testament saint, King David, mourned with this type of sorrow when his son, Absalom, revolted against him. We find the story in 2 Samuel 15. There David, and those who mourned with him, covered their heads, went barefoot, and wept. They went up into the mountain to worship and cry out to God. If being poor in spirit means the humility of recognizing and admitting our need, then mourning in the sense that Jesus speaks of here is the kind that moves us in the center of our being and changes our lives forever.

What do we mourn?

Our sins:

Personal- those sins which so easily beset us—anger, pride, prejudice, lying, cheating, gluttony, avarice, hatred. As a nation—what are our national sins? As a world—see injustice in the world. The AIDS epidemic, the images of starving children in the world, the persecution of Christians. What other areas do we see injustice and inequity.

When we mourn our sins it leads us to the source of our happiness—Jesus Christ. The essence of spiritual mourning is the realization of what we have done with life and of our desperate need for the forgiveness of the Lord. Mourning our sins in this deepest sense brings us to three life-giving words: “Lord, forgive me!” The happy life begins with these three words, and it grows as we live our lives constantly repeating those words.

Happiness is knowing Jesus Christ, but we cannot know him as Savior until we admit we are sinners. Saying, “Lord, forgive me,” is how new life begins. Mourning our sins moves us to Christ, and there we experience the comfort that this beatitude promises. When we come to Christ, we find forgiveness for our sins. We find compassion from one who has mourned and was moved to action. The heart of God broke over the separation that sin caused. The broken heart of God moved to action in Jesus Christ as he came into the world to save sinners like you and me. His mourning carried him all the way to the cross where he suffered and bled and died so that our sins might be forgiven. He mourned, and he was moved. That is the beginning of the happy life.

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