Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. [Matthew 5:4 ESV]
Those who are poor in spirit recognize the fact of sin, truthfully acknowledging the presence of and corruption caused by sin. Almost immediately there is the realization of the consequences of sin. As I become more and more aware of the reality of sin I become more acutely aware of what has happened because of sin. Once my eyes are opened to the absolute truth of sin then my heart grows troubled and anxious, afraid of what might happen because of sin.
Realizing the consequences of sin will force one of two reactions. Either we say we have not sinned or done anything wrong or we acknowledge our sin. Remorse is the emotional state of admitting wrong without agreeing to the truth of sin. Someone who shows remorse knows they have done something which makes them guilty, by violating a law or standard of which they are completely aware, and do the thing anyway. They get caught and are sorry for what they have done, but only because they were caught. For them the law or standard carries no weight or influence in their lives. Perhaps they have trained themselves to feel no guilt or think what they do has no consequences.
Repentance is the admission of the truth of sin and the personal, emotional desire to not continue sinning. It is a turning away from sin where remorse is only a brief stop before continuing in the direction of sin. Repentance is characterized by grief over the hurt and pain caused to another because of our actions. It realizes the end results of our actions and demands we stop them, change the motivation which inspired them, and retrain our thinking to keep ourselves from doing them again.
I have characterized repentances as a turning away from sin. I first stop when I realize I am going in the direction of sin, realize the consequences of continuing in that direction and begin to turn away. I grieve over sin but soon realize the process of grieving does not stop just because I want to turn away from sin but will last for the rest of my life because I can do nothing to stop sin.
Jesus says “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” [Matthew 5:4 ESV] I am supposed to grieve but Jesus’ teaching does not stop with the truth of my mourning. He moves through the entire process. None of the elements Jesus states can be ignored or skipped. So, too, none of the steps which come with grief, which has its own process and includes denial, anger and then acceptance, can be skipped. Because mourning is grief it begins with denial, moves into anger and culminates with acceptance.
Jesus’ statement, blessed are those who mourn, is the next quality which describes the citizen of the kingdom of heaven and what they look like. There are seven of these qualities and this is only the second. Jesus makes this statement which is the exact opposite of what the world and anyone in the world wants and expects. It is not hard to spew out those desirable characteristics or circumstances sought after and coveted by the world. I know them intimately and struggle with them daily. I want peace which means a lack of conflict both externally and internally. I do not want to be attacked especially by guilt over a circumstance of which I seem to have no control. I do not want anyone telling me what to do or how to act or where to work or how to live.
If the world views something, anything, as good or desirable it is guaranteed God holds the opposite view. This is not simply because God’s views are diametrically opposed to those of the world but because the thinking of the hearts of those in the world are in complete rebellion against God. Many things are good but their attainment or the means by which they are accomplished when done for self and not for God are tainted and corrupted by sin. Sin must be dealt with for nothing sinful will exist in God’s presence for even a moment of eternity, whatever a moment in eternity looks like. Even Satan and those angels who rebelled against God are cast out of God’s eternal holy presence.
Understanding the threat of being removed from the presence of God should illicit mourning, grieving, wailing and gnashing of teeth. If I am not moved to anguish by the possibility of being ejected from the presence of God then my concept and understanding of God is faulty. It also shows my understanding of who I am is mistaken. To “mourn” mean to lament, be grieved because of something which has happened to a person. Mourners wail, tear their clothes, toss dust in the air, refuse to eat and drink because they have no appetite. They have lost someone they love completely, never to see that person again, and are consumed by their grief. Jesus tells me I should mourn, grieve, and cry out in anguish, because of what has happened to God, to those around me in the world and to me because of the cost of sin. But the focus is upon God and the reality we have lost our intimate relationship with Him because of our rebellion. He has not died. We have died.
Mourning is a direct result of spiritual poverty. It is not the emotional anguish over physical suffering or loss but the deep grief over or because of sin which causes spiritual death. Death, which is separation from that which sustains life, is the outcome of sin. God created man to have a relationship with him so the primary result of sin is how it affects God and what it cost Him. I am so selfish in my view of sin I forget or ignore or redefine the extent of the impact upon God. I think nothing I do has an impact upon Him. Those who are poor in spirit have changed their focus from self to God, from how God views truth and our inclination to believe a lie to hatred for sin and love for truth.
We know what sin costs people. They die and are separated from God. In order to understand the penalty of sin we must know what it cost God.