Jesus wasn’t talking about the grief that follows the loss of a loved one, which might surprise many greeting card companies! Though it is true that the Lord is close to the broken-hearted, here Jesus is talking about what follows being “poor in Spirit.” It is the ability to recognize sin in your life and truly repent. True repentance goes beyond asking for forgiveness to mourning breaking the heart of God and longing for reconciliation with Him. As Bernard of Clairvaux put it: “God is a shy Lover, and when He sees us in the arms of another, He backs away.” When we grieve the loss of fellowship with Him, repent of our sin with a true U-Turn, we also experience true reconciliation.
And that brings joy!
So though it doesn’t sound fun to truly mourn our sin, true mourning for sin causes His Spirit to rise in us like the rising sun dispels the darkness. When I truly mourned my sin of manipulation and did a U-Turn, all of my relationships, including my relationship with my sweet Jesus improved and God flooded my heart with light. Indeed, I was and am comforted.
Colin Smith explains that because of the depravity of our hearts, we are often blind to our sin, so we must ask God to open our eyes. The psalmist says:
So one thing we will do this week is to look at some key passages that can illumine sin, and ask:
Is there a warning here I should heed?
We also can gain insight by asking those we trust to tell us what we cannot see.
Colin Smith asked his wife if she would point out a flaw or sin of his he might not see.
She hesitated, and then said, “Can I name two?”
They both laughed. (A good marriage!)
I asked my daughter Annie the same question, and she told me I grieve more over eating habits than other things — and I know that is true. I know it is important to take care of my body, but much vanity is mixed into that — and I often care more about the sin of bad eating than the sin of unkind thoughts. So I am concentrating on crying out to help for my thought life, which matters so much to God.
Indeed, if we are poor in Spirit, we are willing to ask such a question of someone we trust.
So our second and challenging assignment will be to ask that question and be willing to respond, for Proverbs tells us:
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. What do you think is the difference between asking for forgiveness and mourning a sin?
3. How have you spied God in your life in the last 24 hours?
Monday: Godly Sorrow
Colin Smith says the reason we repeat the same sin is because we don’t know how to repent with hope — instead we just condemn ourselves, as Judas did. Believing that a true U-Turn will lead to joy will give us strength. Allen Redpath said “God has not promised to forgive one sin of which you are not willing to repent.” The degree to which we believe God will meet us with love and joy is what will give momentum to our repentance.
4. Meditate on 2 Corinthians 7:8-11
A. Why, according to verses 8-9, does Paul not regret the sorrow his letter caused?
B. What, according to verse 10, is the difference between godly and worldly sorrow?
C. Challenge question: Give an example of both godly and worldly sorrow from the Scriptures and support your answer. (And try to use different illustrations than your sisters have already used!)
D. How is godly sorrow different than damage control?
E. What kind of fruit, according to verse 11, does godly sorrow produce? Compare this to Matthew 5:4. What do you see?
5. Share a time when true repentance led to comfort from the Lord.
Tuesday: How To Truly Mourn Sin
6. Colin Smith says to think about a sin in your life and go through these steps:
A. How, if you had truly repented of this sin long ago and turned from it, might your life be different? More fruitful?
B. What kind of pain has this sin brought to yourself? To others?
C. How has it grieved God?
7. What would a true U-Turn look like, and what measures might you take to strengthen the turn?
8. Look at the sins in Proverbs 6:16-19 and ask the Lord to show you if any are true in your life.
Wednesday: Overcoming the Deception of “Enjoyable” Sins
Whether it is lust, gluttony, gossip — it is hard to give it up. But indeed, we are being deceived, for the pleasure is momentary and then it turns around to cut us to pieces. Proverbs sheds light on this.
9. What do we lose by persisting in an “enjoyable sin” according to Proverbs 1:22-33? Find everything you can.
10, What will godly wisdom save you from according to Proverbs 2:12-22?
11. Idolatry is always involved, as you are choosing to meet your needs your way instead of God’s ways. How can you speak to your soul about how God can truly meet this need you are trying to meet through rebellion?
12. Action Assignment: Ask someone you love and trust to tell you about a sin they see in your life. Report back.
Thursday-Friday: Message from Colin Smith
13. Listen to the above and share your notes and comments.
14. Is there a way the Spirit of God spoke to your heart through this? If so, how?
15. What is your take-a-way for the week and why?