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“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”—Matthew 5:4 (NLT)
Merriam Webster defines mourning as “a period of time during which signs of grief are shown.” This period of sorrow is most often associated with the loss of a loved one or some sort of tragedy involving loss of life. However, when we examine Matthew 5:4, we see that death is not the only cause for mourning!
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” So often, people take this as a blanket statement regarding grief and mourning and apply it to all situations. This has led to much misinterpretation of this verse. This begs the question: What is Jesus referring to here? What kind of mourning does God bless? What kind of mourners will be comforted?
Theologian John Gill explained it best when he said, “Blessed are they that mourn for sin, for their own sins; the sin of their nature . . . which is always working in them, and is a continual grief of mind to them.” Blessed are those that mourn for “the unbelief of their hearts, notwithstanding the many instances, declarations, promises, and discoveries of grace made unto them; their daily infirmities, and many sins of life, because they are committed against a God of love, grace, and mercy, grieve the Spirit, and dishonor the gospel of Christ.” And blessed are those “who mourn also for the sins of others, for the sins of the world, the profaneness and wickedness that abound in it; and more especially for the sins of professors (other believers), by reason of which, the name of God, and ways of Christ, are evil spoken of.”
This is something that we see Jesus doing (Luke 19:41–44). It’s something Paul so eloquently expresses in Romans 7 as he mourns over the sinful nature within him—the unspiritual man who knows the good he’s supposed to do, but instead does the evil he hates.
As I learned this truth of Jesus’ words, I was just so floored. I discovered that the person who mourns his or her sinfulness and the sinfulness of the world is truly attuned to the Holy Spirit. This person has a godly sorrow. And according to 2 Corinthians 7, godly sorrow produces repentance! That’s why the mourner is comforted by God! Because “the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation . . .” (2 Corinthians 7:10 NASB).
DIG: Read Romans 7:14–25 and 2 Corinthians 7.
DISCOVER: Does your sin grieve you and cause you to have a godly sorrow?
DISPLAY: Spend time in prayer today asking the Lord for a godly sorrow, that you may mourn and experience grief for your sin; that you may not become numb and desensitized to it
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.