Matthew 5:3-4 – Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (NIV)
I recently began a new teaching series in which our class is walking through the Gospels, in an effort to draw nearer to Christ by closely examining His life and teachings. As I prepared the lesson for the fifth and sixth chapters of Matthew, I remembered hearing my father say that the first portion of the Sermon on the Mount was called the Beatitudes because these are the attitudes that Christ would have us to be. And for the most part, the attitude He desires is quite evident. But for many, if not most, it is not immediately clear what is meant by "poor in spirit" and "mourning".
So what exactly is it that Christ is asking and requiring of us? For the first one, I think that the New Living Translation actually hits the nail on the head, as it says, "God blesses those who realize their need for him." To be poor in spirit, we must realize just how destitute and lost we would be without Him.
But why are we to mourn? Perhaps the better question is, "What are we to mourn?" We are to mourn over our sins. God desires that we come before Him with a spirit and attitude of mourning, and deep regret for our transgressions. There is an old gospel song that speaks of the crucifixion of Christ, and, in the chorus, it says, "Oh sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble." That is the exact attitude about which Christ is speaking. Our sins and transgressions should bring us to our knees, mourning and trembling, as we realize that we have caused Him grief, and that we are truly nothing without Him. Not until we have come to this realization, and have truly begun to mourn over our sins, will we receive the full measure of God's blessings, as promised in Matthew.
Prayer: O Lord, we do come mourning and trembling, knowing that our sins helped nail You to that cross. Help us ever to be mindful of how much we truly need You, and may we receive the blessings and comfort that You promised in Your word. Amen.