The more I search for truth in the Bible, the more I am struck by things that I’ve read 100 times that meant little too me years ago, but now help me better understand who God is and what He desires. The problem with preaching today, at least in my experience, is that we preachers tend to repeat the same sermons we preached years and years ago, but some of us have ceased to be looking for more truth. I am still a student still—-an apprentice—a learner. Sitting at the feet of Jesus realizing I don’t know it all yet and I still suffer from spiritual attention disorder—-I forget the big ideas for no reason.
So as I share today, I do so realizing that many of you might shake your head and ask yourself, “You mean he didn’t know this?” To which I would answer, “If I did, I forgot.”
But to the point, have you ever noticed what causes people to cry? What happens to you when you see someone crying? I’ve seen each young man in my home shed tears in the past month or so, and it eats me up. I can’t stand to see someone crying!! I want to stop it and wipe the tears from their faces. I want to fix the problem and cause them to smile. Nothing stops me dead in my tracks more than seeing someone I know cry.
When was the last time you cried? It seems that the older we get, the less we want to cry or allow others to see us cry. My generation was brought up on watching John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart. We were taught that “big boys don’t cry”, or at least, “never let them see you crying”. It was not wise counsel. It’s one thing to be a cry baby, and it’s quite another to show that you are broken hearted and then weep, in compassion for others or about things you have done, or lost, or witnessed or regret.
But there’s narrative of a woman weeping in front of Jesus that struck me this past week and caused me to think about crying a bit different. “And standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.” Luke 7:38. NIV. This is the story of a sinful woman following Jesus into the house of a Pharisee and cleaning His feet with her hair and tears. Of course those watching were amazed that Jesus let this filthy prostitute even touch Him—-she was unclean, a prostitute and disgusting to them. But she was also aware of her debauchery and bad choices. She blamed no one but herself and sat there crying. She was broken hearted for what she had done—-not for what had been done to her. That’s what brought her to tears—-her own sins. She did not come looking for a gift or healing or some other external miracle. She was crippled, diseased and impaired because of her sins and no one could help her. She came for spiritual hope and help.
Those tears she shed were not tears of self-pity or anger because of how she had been neglected or slighted. She blamed no one—-and I think that Jesus loved her because of it. What we’ve got wrong in our teaching and modern culture is that no one seems to be responsible for anything bad that they do! It’s all blamed on our parents… our gender…our ancestry…. our race/ethnicity.
From I have seen and read lately, it seems like professionals are telling us that if all things were as they should be in parenting, equality of pay and all folks were of the same color, gender, height and weight, everything would be fine and people would not do bad things. But such logic and preaching will never bring about spiritual renewal, revival or an awakening! This woman recognized that regardless of what externally caused her to stumble or pressured or trapped her into selling her body for sex, it was wrong and in defiance of God’s expectations. And that is what we must preach and teach! Her response of tears brought about healing, but if someone had stood beside her and tried to convince her it was not her fault she never would have come to Jesus for restoration and redemption.
Consider the results of her humility and her tears. Jesus saw her tears, verified her sincerity and gave her more than she hoped for. He forgave her and loved her. Can you imagine her peace! “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!”Psalm 126:5. She cried, and it was because of her tears that Jesus had compassion on her. Did you hear that? Jesus was moved to compassion and forgave her not because He excused her profession as a prostitute as being “not her fault”, or “the only thing she could do to make a living”, nor because “it was no greater of a sin than any other sin”——-or any of the other nitwitted excuses we make for the bent things we do! No, she humbly acknowledged her sorrow and humble sought mercy at the feet of Jesus—and it worked—He forgave her………. It still works.
In the Old Testament a man named Hezekiah also cried to God as he was suffering and as he got the news that he would soon die; God heard him and had pity on him. God told the prophet Isaiah. “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.” Isaiah 38:5
Crying is a part of the human condition and there’s no shame in it; I am certain that it is pleasing to Him when we shed tears for the right things. We might also cry because we are happy or because we perhaps when we break our toe against a heavy piece of furniture at night, but spiritual speaking that are are at least two things men and women of God weep about that are good and pleasing to God:
1. We should shed tears with compassion when we hurt for others. Jesus saw how people were mourning the loss of Lazarus and He was moved to tears. It hurt Him that others were hurting! See John 11:35 NIV. Jesus Himself cried for others. " When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled”. John 11:33.
As we become more like Him, we will weep for those that hurt. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:4 (NIV) “For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.“ If we hurt for others we will cry for them. Tears show that we love someone. Jesus cried for those He loved. We honor others with our tears and we prove that we are acquiring the mind and heart of Jesus when the pain and sorrow of others brings tears to our own eyes.
This past Friday I had to appear in court to allow for one of the three sons I adopted to be placed under the care of some people that can provide for him what I cannot. That thirteen old little boy sat there for three hours waiting for the time of the hearing to determine his fate for the next five years. I saw him and I saw the look in his face as he was hoping I would stop that proceeding. But I simply cannot give him the care he needs and as the judge allowed him to be placed in his twelfth placement for his special needs, he broke down and wept and wept. I could not speak. A lump in my throat made it impossible for me breathe. My day was destroyed because of his tears and my inadequacies to be the kind of a father he needed. I am broken hearted and I have cried out to God, who alone can fix this child and fix me. God saw my tears and his tears—-that’s the only consolation I have. Now I am waiting for a miracle.
2. We should shed tears for our sins. As with the prostitute, the real evidence of remorse is tears. God sees our tears and does incredible things because of our tears and remorse. In Matthew 26:75 we are told: “And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” Peter wept—he wailed because of his cowardice and denial—-but then he became a lion! Christ restored him and he became the leader of the church—-the rock upon which the Christian church has been established! But at one point Peter wept inconsolable when he realized that he had denied his Savior. Those tears were proof of his sincerity. We’re told in James 4:9 to “Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” When we’ve messed up and we want to make it clear to God that we’re serious, tears are evidence of our honestly and truth. When was the last time you shed tears for how you dishonored Him?
I don’t recall thinking much about how much Jesus cried until I prepared this devotion. But He wept over more than the death of Lazarus. It was His nature to wept over things that broke His heart—-and that is also to be our new nature as followers of Christ.
In Luke 19:41 we are told that: “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it.” Why? Because of those that would be lost forever. It broke His heart. Does it break your heart to know that there are many in our community—people you and I see each and every day—-that will spend an eternity in darkness, hidden from the presence of God?
What about the peril our friends or family face without Jesus Christ in their lives? In 1 Samuel 20:41 we are told about how David treated his best friend, Jonathan, after it became obvious that they would never see each other again: “And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most.” David knew that the end was near and that his beloved friend would never see him again. This is the a bitter time of weeping indeed—there’s a place for that kind of sorrow in our lives.
But here’s the point I want to make today:
1. He sees and our tears and has compassion on us. Our tears move God. Sorrow for sins and a position of humility allows Him to set our hearts right and lets us things done right! But prideful denial of our culpability or denial that “sin is sin” brings about hard-heartedness and spiritual death.
2. One day—-one day sooner than you think——there will only be tears of sheer joy. One my sixth birthday I was getting ready to go school, but my mom told me to sit down for a few more minutes at the breakfast table and listen to the radio. And so with my brother and sister I sat and waited for WTRR to play the next song. And to my astonishment, the broadcaster said, and now we have a special song for Dean Barley on his birthday. And they played by favorite song, “Puff the Magic Dragon”. I did not know how the people at the radio station knew who I was or that this was my favorite song, and for some reason I began to cry. I was happy and satisfied that someone thought so much of me that they played a song on the radio for all of Sanford, Florida to hear—-just for me. Jesus told us in Luke 6:21“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Jesus promised us in Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And again in Revelation 7:17. “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Psalm 30:5 "For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."
Have your cried this week? Have you wept this very morning? Right now are you heart-broken because of some sin in your life or sorrow for someone you love that is hurting? As with me this past Thursday, does it seem like you cannot breath because of the sorrow in your soul for someone you love? Here are some final words of encouragement: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34: 18 (NIV)
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