“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4
With these words, Jesus continued His great “Sermon on the Mount” With them He builds upon the first Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) The one who is poor in spirit recognizes his dependence upon God and knows that if it were not for the mercy and grace of God he would be without hope. One who posses this attitude, will then find himself in a state of sorrow over the hopelessness of his sinful situation. Like Paul, he will sorrowfully cry out, ”O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)
When we understand the terrible consequences of sin in our lives we should be moved to sorrow – this is a sign of an honest and good heart. Why? Because godly sorrow leads to repentance. In the First Corinthian Epistle, Paul sharply rebuked the brethren there for tolerating sin in their midst. This rebuke was well received and effected great change in the church at Corinth because in the Second Corinthian Epistle, we find that the brethren had repented out of sorrow for their sin. “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.” (2 Corinthians 7:9)
Paul then goes on to draw a distinction between their godly sorrow which led to true repentance and worldly sorrow. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2 Corinthiand 7:10) Godly sorrow leads to repentance and then repentance leads to salvation. Worldly sorrow, which is not sorrow over sin, but rather sorrow over getting caught. When worldly people get into trouble and are punished and the punishment escalates to a level they can no longer deal with, then they will change – they will stop the behavior. However, this is not godly sorrow – this is worldly sorrow. Thousands of inmates in our prison system are sorry for their crime – sorry they got caught. Most are not sorry they committed the crime and because their sorrow is strictly of a wordly nature, they often go right back into crime after they are released.
As 2 Corinthians 7:10 implies, this kind of worldly sorrow leads to “salvation” that is “repented of”. In other words, they fall from their false sense of salvation and become lost in sin once more, because they never truly repented. Repentence is a change of mind toward or about sin, which in turn leads to a change of action. The kind of repentence that merely says, “Oops, I got caught and now I’m sorry” is unable save anyone.
If one is truly poor in spirit and mourns over sin and his own inability to overcome sin, then he will be moved unto repentance and will inherit the kingdom of God and in it, be comforted.