Friday, June 27, 2008

Matthew 5:4 Comfort for those who mourn

The life of Saul in the Old Testament is, to me, a great example of someone who wanted to take the easy road to following God. He wanted to keep up appearances and he enjoyed his position as the earthly king over Israel. However, when it came down to it, he wasn’t willing to be completely obedient to God. I heard a preacher once preach a sermon on 1 Samuel 15 called “The Perils of Partial Obediance”. Anyone familiar with that passage would probably concur that the title is appropriate. Saul was given orders to exterminate the Amalekites. Instead of obeying God, he killed most of them. When he was confronted with his sin by Samuel, he had the audacity to plead his cause. He claimed that he had been obedient to God. When he was told that the kingdom would be taken away from him, he then admitted his sin. I submit to you that Saul was not sorry about what he had done. He was instead sorry he was going to have to face the consequences of his sin. In my mind, that is exactly the opposite of the kind of attitude described by our Lord in verse 4 of Matthew 5.

Again, we notice that Jesus is describing someone who is “Blessed” (Greek “makarios”-3107 ). Really, this word means “happy”. He has already described someone as being happy when they declare spiritual bankruptcy (v. 3). Now, if you were asking most people to list characteristics of being happy, they would probably not list their own lack of spiritual goodness. Likewise, they would probably not list mourning as an indicator of happiness. In fact, that would be, in most cases, the opposite of happiness. I mean, mourning is something you do when you’re sad, right. If that’s the case, how can Jesus say “Blessed are those who mourn”?

As we remember the example from the life of Saul in 1 Samuel, we see someone who showed no repentance. He was not willing to admit what he did was wrong. In fact, he proudly proclaimed his innocence to Samuel while there were sheep bleating in the distance-the spoils of his attack on the Amalekites. When he proclaimed that he had sinned and asked Samuel to come and sacrifice with him, he is described in a manner I would describe as being mournful. However, he did no mourn over his sin. He mourned over the consequences. This is not the kind of sorrow our Lord is talking about. When I came to the realization of my sin I was led to repentant by the power of the Holy Spirit. I wasn’t just sorry about the consequences I would face due to my sin. I honestly felt remorse that I had offended a holy God.

As Paul notes in 2 Corinthians 7:10 “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. “ Godly sorrow, which results from recognizing ones own poverty of spirit, will lead to mourning over our sin which, as Paul notes, will lead to repentance. Because of this repentance, Jesus declares that we who mourn “shall be comforted”. The Greek word translated “comforted” is “parakeleo” (3870). Jesus uses a similar word in John 14:16 when He said that the Father would send “another Helper” (Gr “parakletos” 3875). Those who God gives the ability to repent and believe will be “Blessed” (happy) because they will have an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, that dwells within their hearts. We don’t have to continue to mourn over our sins. Our Father in heaven has forgiven us based on the death of Jesus Christ and has given us the seal of our salvation, the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Helper. Praise God for that gift.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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