THE RIGHT KIND OF SORROW

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1 Annual (Misc) Sermons: Vol. 3 Sermon 9 Bob Marcaurelle Mt. 5:4; Lk. 6:21, 25 THE RIGHT KIND OF SORROW Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. - Matt. 5:4 The language of the gospel is not the language of the world. Who but Jesus would congratulate a man because his face was wet with tears? Who but Jesus would teach that happiness comes through sorrow? Today we probe this provocative statement and ask two questions: (1) What tears are not blessed of God, and (2) What tears are. I. THE TEARS THAT ARE NOT BLESSED 1. Puritanical Gloom. First, Jesus was not endorsing sourpuss, long-faced, gloomy, pessimistic, sackcloth-andashes Christianity. He would have felt sorry for the old puritan who said of ice cream, It must be a sin; it tastes so good. Present day legalists, equating joy with sin, and misery with holiness, have turned their backs upon much in life that is natural and legitimate. The Bible says, A merry heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit is rottenness to the bones (Prov. 17:22). The Readers Digest title, Laughter the Best Medicine comes from this very verse. 2. Self Pity. Jesus Christ was not pronouncing a blessing on the little men and women who wallow in self pity. Only a curse rested upon Alexander the Great who, after having conquered the world, wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. History record no more tragic mourner than Napoleon in his lonely exile. His crown had been snatched from his head and his scepter from his hand and he was a man of loneliness and sorrow, but he was anything but blessed of God. We are never sorrier in the sight of God and man than when we wallow in self pity and shame ourselves with childish and selfish tears.

2 3. Personal Sorrows. And third, although it is true, I do not believe Jesus was referring here primarily to the common sorrows of life, if, which properly handled, can be blessings in disguise. This is true, of course. The Arabs have a proverb, All sunshine makes a desert. Beecher called tears of sorrow the telescopes that let us see into heaven. But Jesus Christ, I believe, was not dealing with suffering in this verse, but with sin. We put the priority upon our happiness instead of our holiness and we are far more eager to avoid suffering than sin. And so most sermons on this text quickly pass over tears for sin and spend their time on the ways in which God brings comfort to the suffering. But Ralph Sockman is right when he says this indicates a current religious trend toward being more concerned about the evils that befall us than with the sins we commit. We shall interpret these words against the dark backdrop of sin and see what tears Jesus calls blessed and what tears bring the strengthening comfort of God and what tears lead to true happiness. II. THE TEARS THAT ARE BLESSED The primary meaning of this text is - blessed are those who have the sorrow of repentance over their involvement in sin, because they are the ones who receive the comfort of salvation. The first five beatitudes picture the progressive stages of CONVERSION. The blessed man realizes his spiritual poverty and need. He is sorry for his sins and submits himself meekly into the hands of Christ and is born again so that the dominant hunger of his life is for righteousness and he is forgiven by the mercy of God. These are tears of repentance, of sorrow over sin. This is the Psalmist saying, I will declare my iniquity, I will be sorry for my sin (Ps. 38:18). It is, says Hargrove, the overflow of poverty, or spirit. It is the foul but forgiven woman (Lk. 7) who bathes her Savior s feet with her tears. It is the once proud prodigal returning home (Lk. 15) with what Pink calls a sense of sinnership. It is three thousand people

3 on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) CRYING OUT, What must we do? It is Augustine saying, I grew more wretched and Thou dids t grow nearer. This is what Paul was talking about when he said, Your sadness made you change your ways. That sadness was used by God... For the sadness used by God brings a change of heart that leads to salvation... But worldly sadness causes death. (2 Cor. 7:9, 10, TEV) This is the godly sorrow of evangelical repentance and several things need to be said about it: 1. Not Necessarily Literal Tears. These tears do not have to be literal. Some of our forefathers went too far in their demands for sorrowful repentance. They developed the separate states of repentance and created the old fashioned mourner s bench where those under conviction could pray through to salvation. Oswald J. Smith, as a boy, went to the mourner s bench to cry for salvation. As he knelt there, on brother whispered in his ear, Hold on, son, hold on! A little later another brother came up and said, Turn loose, son, turn loose. Dr. Smith later said, Somewhere between holding on and turning loose, I found the Savior. God has created us with different dispositions and some men cry at the drop of a hat while others can lose a loved one with no outward show of grief. And thus some weep when they come to God and some do not, but God alone can measure the reality and depth of our sorrow. One who cries the most may care the least. The important thing, as Paul reminds us, is that the repentance which comes from God produces a change of heart and life. How sorry do we have to be? Sorry enough to be willing to change. Tis not enough to say I m sorry and repent And then go on from day to day Just as I always went Repentance is to leave The sins we loved before And show that we in earnest grieve

4 By doing them no more. I heard Vance Havner preach on people walking down our church aisles with heads erect, with wills unbroken, with proud looks and hard hearts, lugging their sins along. We are trying to produce blessedness without bitterness, rejoicing with repentance and thus our churches are filled with the unsaved. A final word about sorrow for sin is that it, by itself, is not enough. In Christianity the mourner s bench has never been a final resting place, but a way station on the road to the mercy seat (Redhead). The Bible is filled with those doomed and tragic souls who wept over their sins and were burdened under their sins and confessed their sins, but never did anything about their sins. They had what Paul called the sorrow of this world and not Godly sorrow. Cain was broken and wretched because of his sins. Judas, in disgrace and shame and remorse, went out and hanged himself. And King Saul was one who mourned over his sins. He confessed sin more than anybody else in the Bible except David. But his mourning was over the consequences. He hated what sin did to him but never hated what it did to God. He never hated his sins enough to leave them. Of all the unblessed mourners in the human drama, few are more pitiful than those who weep for their sins but do it for the wrong reasons or do it too late. These words are among the saddest ever penned: I dreamed that the great Judgment morning Had dawned and the trumpet had blown I dreamed that the nations had gathered To Judgement before the white throne. And, oh, what a weeping and wailing As the lost were told of their fate They cried for the rocks and the mountains They prayed, but their prayer was too late.

5 2. The Sorrow in Sanctification. Repentance, like poverty of spirit, is an abiding characteristic of the child of God. If anything, his sorrow for sin intensifies after he is saved. And the mark of true Christian growth is increased awareness of sinfulness and increased sorrow over it and increased pleadings for deliverance. This is mourning for sanctification and is what Jesus pictures again in the fifth beatitude, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. This is not limited to the carnal or backslidden Christians like David or the church at Corinth, who weep over the shame or under the rod of chastisement. No, it is also the mark of the growing, mature Christian. I am like Arthur Pink, I wish we could stop hearing about so many conferences on the higher Christian life and hear of some on the lowly Christian life. People today say, I am a Spirit-filled Christian, yet Paul, who was a Spirit-filled Christian, never said that about himself. He did say, however, I am carnal (Rom. 7). Oh, how this sorrow for sin in ourselves will be comforted. The Greek word here for comfort means to call to one s side and it is the word Jesus uses to describe the Holy Spirit. The idea is not that of a snug armchair by the fire. It is that of strengthening and fortification and encouragement and help. The Greek writer Aeschylus used it for troops who stood by each other and cheered each other as they went into battle. We who wept because of our sins know the strong comfort of forgiveness. The Christ who died on the cross and rose made full payment and set us free from guilt. And we can know the strong comfort of victory over sin s power and presence as the Christ who lives, lives and grows in us. And what a day that will be, when our Jesus we will see, and He will rid our nature of every trace of sin and make us like Himself, spotless and without blemish. And the less we think of ourselves, the more we think about the grace, the UNMERITED mercy of God. As our sinful nature is slowly revealed to us and we see the awful depths of

6 human nature, we cry, Who are we that He should love us? We learn more and more about our sins and more and more about His love. And when before His cross I stand Two wonders I confess The wonder of His matchless love And my unworthiness 3. Sorrow For the Saints. The third blessed sorrow is that of weeping for the sins of others, especially those of God s people. A. T. Robertson says this word in the Greek Old Testament was often used for sorrow for the sins and suffering of others. Paul used it when he said to the church at Corinth, I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to MOURN over many of those who sinned before and have not repented... (2 Cor. 12:21). This is the spirit of Ezra, of whom the Bible says, Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the chamber of Johohanan...where he spent the night, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was MOURNING over the faithlessness of the exiles (Ez. 10:6). How many tears have you shed for your church? When she is in trouble, when she is in the wrong, when she has lowered her standards, what do you do? Do you criticize her? Do you kick her while she is down? Or do her sins break your heart and cause you to lift her up to heaven like Ezra lifted Israel and Paul lifted Corinth? And the same applies to the sins of your fellow Christian. You will never be happy or blessed as long as you gloat over the faults of God s people and look down your nose at them. But, oh, the joy that comes from caring and praying and weeping and trying to help.

7 4. Sorrow for Souls. We in the Christian church who have found our way to God through brokenness need not only to have continuing sorrow over our sins and those of our fellow Christians but also for the souls of the lost. We need a burden for souls. Paul watched Israel turn away from God and he said, I have great sorrow and anguish in my heart. For I wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race (Rom. 9:3). As Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem for the last time, to die by her hands, the Bible says, And when He drew near and saw the city he wept over it (Lk. 19:41). Father Damien contracted leprosy while working with the lepers and said he knew he was diseased the day he dropped boiling water on his foot and FELT NO PAIN. The mark of a diseased Christian and a diseased church is when they feel no pain over the fate of the lost. Oh, pray for a burden for those you know and those you love who do not know the Lord. Go to them. Paul s sorrow for Israel s lostness sent him into the wilds of the whole world to bring her to her God. Jesus sorrow for Jerusalem sent Him within her walls to die for her sins. Go forth in sorrow and you will return rejoicing when one for whom you wept, weeps their way to God. There is no more blessed scene under heaven than the tears of repentance by a lost sinner falling on the floor of a church right next to the tears of joy shed by one who helped lead them there.

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