We usually associate mourning with death and funerals.
If you conjure up images of Undertakers, wreaths and weeping relatives when you read this verse then you may just be thinking in the wrong direction. Certainly we should be thinking ‘sadness’ or ‘unhappiness with some event’, but it is not referring to someone we know and love dying, rather it about ourselves and something we have done that we deeply regret. It is a mourning that may bring tears for our own foolish actions and a deep regret that we have offended God, hurt other people and brought shame on ourselves.
There are plenty of examples for us to read in the Bible.
As you reflect on them, perhaps you feel that you might be able to write a similar story about yourself, but never publish it!
v 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
The Church in Corinth had a serious issue to deal with. One of the members had begun a sexual liaison with his father’s wife, his step-mother. The church was unclear about how to deal with it and had obviously been in contact with Paul to ask for guidance. As a result Paul wrote a first letter to them giving clear instructions (1 Cor 5:2) for the man to be put out of the church fellowship.
The church acted accordingly and it would appear from this letter that the man repented and turned his life around. (Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. 2 Cor 2:7) The sinner had expressed his regret; he had experienced real sorrow for his sin; in short he had repented. This is what mourning over sin means. It is a heart-deep sorrow for sin and a readiness to turn away from it.
This is so much more than saying sorry for some misdemeanour; it is a sorrow that leads to positive action. It moves us away from sin and puts us in a salvation relationship with God. It is a sorrow that brings no regrets because it restores our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
This is the kind of mourning that Jesus is referring to in the Sermon on the Mount. Not only does it bring comfort from God Himself, but also a restored comforting relationship with fellow Christians who are the agents through whom God works to bring comfort.