Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
This beatitude is a balm for many. It sets forward the concrete truth that God wants His people to have comfort. It promotes the idea of a God who will help us in times of need and want, and facilitate a solution to the hurt and grief we experience. Though this does communicate a true aspect of who God is, we also understand that this is a decidedly shallow way to completely understand this beatitude.
To know Christ’s words, we must consider what we are supposed to “mourn” over. Remember the framework of the beatitudes! These are elements of what the Christian is supposed to be. They are not unreachable ideals, but understandable concepts, and they are meant to show us an accurate picture of a citizen of the Kingdom of Christ. These are not what the Christian seeks to be, but what the Christian simply IS. The beatitudes work counter to the established order of men – regardless of the time period or cultural makeup. What Jesus says here runs counter to our most base tendencies.
A Kingdom citizen will mourn over their sins. This is “Godly sorrow” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Sinners do not mourn over sins, and in fact will often gloat and boast about them. Many Christians who have fallen away rejoice in their new-found "freedom" to ignore the restrictions of a life with God, and embrace the sin that snared them in the first place. Paul wrote of these: “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:19)
With the Kingdom citizen, sins are a source of anguish. Their presence means that something must be done to stop them, and the solution of cleansing by the blood of Christ must be sought. If we do not truly mourn the sin, we will skip right past that and seek comfort concerning that sin.
Before I became a Christian, I would justify my life by essentially saying, “I’m not that bad. I’m not murdering anyone or stealing anything. I’m not hurting others with my life.” My parents sought to help me understand my need to change, but I also had friends who would pat me on the back and tell me that I was a good person. I wanted the comfort without the mourning. The reality is, whatever “comfort” I got was not true comfort.
Only God can truly comfort us! If we try to give or receive comfort outside of forgiveness, we fight a losing battle. There is a great need in our souls to be cleansed by God, free of every sin. God can do this. Again Paul writes, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14).
This is our great spiritual sufficiency. If we ignore this, we sweep aside the real solution, and settle for a fake one. We ignore our needed mourning and embrace a false comfort when we say, “I know this is wrong, but God knows my heart. It will be okay”, or “I know the Bible tells us this is sin, but God knows I need to be happy”, or “I can’t imagine that God would hold me accountable for this.” We can live in this delusion only as long as it takes for the judgment day to arrive, when “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). Bearing the yoke of Jesus means rest for our souls. No longer are we burdened with sin that destroys us, but we are freed to serve a God who comforts us. It is amazing to consider our God’s salvation, and the comfort found in it! -Steven McCrary