Be afflicted, and mourn

What comes to mind when you think of humility? Think of the actions or lifestyle of a humble person.

Is it graceful? Is it poised? Does it exhibit class and refinery?

I believe most of us would say yes to all those questions. Humility is the epitome of etiquette and grace, charm and affableness. Humility- putting others above oneself- is at the very core of politeness. People who exhibit humility are in every way leading the world in manners and conduct.

Humility is respectable.

Humility is graceful.

Humility is poised.

Humility is also commanded by God. In James we are told, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10

Such a wonderful promise. Just before this promise we find another such comforting verse. It says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:8

This verse really describes what is necessary in our lives. Drawing nigh to God, and cleansing and purifying ourselves. In between these verses is a verse that I often notice as overlooked.

It doesn’t sound pleasant, and it’s not such a wonderful comforting idea. But it is absolutely essential to understanding humility.

It says, “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.”

Take a moment and read that verse a second time.

Does that sound like the victorious Christian life? It may not, but it definitely is.

It probably doesn’t sound like a chapter of our lives we want put on display. Being afflicted, mourning, weeping- these are all things that are nothing close to pleasant. We would’t show that side of us to the public, we wouldn’t feel so happy about posting about that on social media.

 

In essence, the path to humility is frought with unpleasantness. It is far from picture perfect moments. It is a stranger to comforts and pleasant feelings. The path to humility is affliction (hard toil), is is weeping, and it is mourning.

The Bible tells us to Humble ourselves in sight of God.

We put that on plaques and signs in our home. Do we read it with joy and forget what it means? Humbling yourself in the sight of God is not something you can do without being changed. It requires surrendering your pleasant and happy thoughts, and getting down to see the filth that you really are.

Giving up your dignity.

Weeping over your sin.

It is for the moment grievous, but for all eternity is is supreme joy.

God says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

If you are willing to mourn over your sin, and be afflicted over it; God will raise you up.

Won’t you humble yourself today?

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Sorrow is better than laughter

Ecclesiastes is an awesome book of the Bible. God gave Solomon (possibly the richest men ever) a large portion of wisdom. Not only this, Solomon wanted to learn wisdom. So, Solomon, a man who is blessed with almost unlimited resources, sets out to find wisdom. He chronicles his journey, and at the end of the book, he gives the revelation of all wisdom and duty.

While reading the book you can find countless nuggets of wisdom that lead you on a trail to find the ultimate sum of wisdom. In Ecclesiastes 7:3, we find one such nugget. It reads, “Sorrow is better than laughter.” Yes, sorrow is better than laughter. Now before you think that Solomon is an extremely depressed individual, let’s look at the rest of the verse. It finishes with, “For by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.”

When I first read this I was a little confused, but as I read the surrounding verses the meaning became clear. Solomon is telling us that by sadness and reflection, we gain wisdom and understanding. I mean, how much character building goes on during a time of endless joking? Usually not much. Our character is built, many times, in those times of sadness. When we pause and reflect on what is truly meaningful in life.

In the previous verse, Solomon tells us that it is better to mourn than to feast, “for that [death] is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart.” How many times have you heard of someone having a turning point in their life when they realized how short life was? I know I have heard of such a transformation many times.

From the wisdom of Solomon we can learn that the sad times in our life build character. And for that, we should be thankful.

So my friends, don’t be afraid to think on something sorrowful from time to time. Allow the shortness of life and the gravity of things to affect you. In contrast, be wary of those who never think on things that provide seriousness. Don’t allow yourself to seek laughter without end, but don’t shy from laughter either. God tells us, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

Laughter is a gift from God to help us enjoy life, but let us not forget that sorrow is a gift also, to help us treasure it.