Saturday, January 30, 2010

Good Grief - The Antidote to Spiritual Apathy

I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. I looked and saw him open the book [the Bible], and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?”
From Chapter 1, The Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan
I was talking with my sheep just now about the importance of grieving over our sins. That we need to recognize the fact that our sins bring grief to God and to those around us.
Ephesians 4:30
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

James 4:7-10
7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Very often, one major reason we do not do anything about our sins is because we simply do not grieve, either because we don't know that we've sinned against God... or we simply can't be bothered.

It's ok to keep on struggling against our sins - even if we fail again and again. But it is totally another thing to have a "bo-chup" attitude and not even hate our sins. Remember, every sin you've committed - Christ had to pay for it with His own blood on the cruel cross. NEVER FORGET THE CROSS!

The Cross not only shows the depth of God's love for us... it also shows the depth of His hatred for the sins in us. Learn to hate sin with all your heart. Because to love God is to hate sin.

I'm not saying that we must hate ourselves. No lah. We hate sin, precisely because we love ourselves! Don't you hate getting the 'flu? But do you hate yourself because you catch the flu? No! Even hypochondriacs don't do that. No, you hate the flu and do your best to fight against it. We use vaccines. We use sanitation. We use antibiotics. We hate diseases like smallpox, leprosy, AIDS and cancer because of all the pain and suffering and misery they have caused to billions of people. So in the same way, we are to hate sin, because it destroys our souls, like diseases destroy our bodies.

So let's make a conscious decision daily to grieve over our sins and look to God for forgiveness and cleansing. Yes, you can make a conscious decision to grieve! Like how we can choose to rejoice even when times are hard, we can also choose to grieve. Otherwise what is the meaning of this Scriptural command: "Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn"?
Joel 2:12-14
12 "Even now," declares the LORD,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning."
13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.

14 Who knows? He may turn and have pity
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the LORD your God.
Take heart, my dear brothers and sisters. For when the prodigal son came to his senses and began grieving for what he had done, he decided to return home, even though he knew that he had effectively told his dad to go and die before he left home. And the father's joy was so shockingly great:
Luke 15:21-24
21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

That is the goodness of grief. To start grieving over our sins can be the beginning of a spiritual revival!
Nehemiah 8:8-12
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear [a] and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.

9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, "This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep." For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

10 Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve."

12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

And don't worry, though you begin with grief, God delights in those who turn to Him, and He enables them to experience the joy of His forgiveness!
Psalm 30:4-5
Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
May God bring forth a wonderful spiritual revival in our hearts this year as we embark on becoming and doing intentional discipleship! Amen!

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