In last week’s post, we discussed worship as enjoying the presence of God. You do not need to be in a special place or even doing a special activity to enjoy the presence of God. God is everywhere, therefore we can worship Him everywhere (even at my kitchen sink while washing the dishes). We can offer ourselves up as a holy sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).
The great thing about enjoying the presence of God is that He doesn’t really hide. Somewhere I heard that searching for God is like playing hide and seek with a toddler. Now that I have a toddler, I understand what that means. Her attempts at hiding are comical. She will hide underneath a blanket with her legs exposed. She will hide in her room all the while singing. When she seems to hiding is when I to search for her the most, and even then it is not hard to find her.
God wants us to search for him. He wants to be found. James 4:5 (NASB) says that God “jealously desires” his Spirit to “dwell in us.” And therefore, we (as Christians) should live a life of grace.
God’s plan for us is that His Spirit lives in us, therefore He is willing to give greater grace. In the following verse, James gives several commands which seem to be instructions on how to live a Spirit-controlled, grace-filled life.
- “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (verse 7).
- “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (verse 8).
- Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom” (verse 9).
- “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (verse 10).
- “Do not speak against one another, brethren” (verse 11)
Now this is an interesting list. I believe I have heard teaching on four out of the five commands listed here. Those four have all been taught in ways we can offer ourselves to God. The one that I haven’t heard much teaching about is verse 9.
“Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.”
I struggle with this verse. My concept of spending time with the Spirit is filled with God’s joy and peace. This verse is revealing that my concept of being Spirit filled is not complete. Being full of the Spirit sometimes causes grief: grief because of my sin, grief because of the sin in the church, and grief because not everyone understand the greatness of God.
Sometimes as American Christians (and maybe in other countries as well), we ignore grieving over sin. I know that I like to claim Christ’s forgiveness (which we need to do). But if we completely ignore our sins, it becomes very easy to become prideful in who we are, and more difficult to enjoy the presence of our great God.
This week, I encourage you to take the time to “be miserable and mourn and weep” for my sin, for your sin, and for the world. Let us not try to exalt ourselves by ignoring our sin, rather let us exalt the One who doesn’t have any faults. I believe this is how we truly offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice.
In the comment sections below, please tell me about times when verse 9 was taught or when you have been miserable in an effort to be a grace-filled sacrifice to God.