“I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26
As I continue my study of the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5, this week landed on verse 4. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” As I read the verse from another translation I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Happy are the sad, for they will be comforted.” My response was the same as yours. How can you be happy when you are sad? Our definition of happy and sad do not translate here, but with the Spirit’s help, understanding came.
I learned that Jesus was addressing a heart that is truly sorrowful, weeping, lamenting over sin. From that place of conviction, confession and repentance, God of comfort comes close and wraps us up in forgiveness, love and comfort. And yes, we are truly blessed, happy and favored when we mourn over sin, because it brings us back into an intimate relationship with God.
As I pressed in for a deeper understanding of this truth, God dug deeper into my heart to reveal truth within. I realized how hardened and insensitive my heart is growing toward sin. Evil is intensifying all around us and the changes are coming so quickly that we don’t know what to do with it. I fear that my heart will grow angry instead of sorrowful, mournful and repentant. The shock of sin diminishes and the acceptance of evil creeps in like an unwanted weed in a manicured lawn.
As a child I was a barefoot kind of girl. I still prefer it that way, but old, achy feet require good supportive shoes. I always enjoyed when the days of summer turned warm and my feet came out of socks and shoes. I would run outdoors barefoot and laugh at the tickle of tender grass beneath my feet. I chose my steps carefully, because my tender feet were touchy to the sharpness of sticks and stones, briars and stickers. Every little prick of discomfort seemed to produce an ouch! I remember curling my feet and attempting to move forward with the least amount of undesirable pain. A few weeks into summer, my feet were no longer tender. My skin had hardened and built a barrier to the pain. I could run across the lawn and even the hot pavement without a flinch or an ouch.
My heart sometimes feels like summer feet!
The sin that once caused me to flinch, no longer seems to have any pain connected to it. It becomes easier to laugh it away and believe that it doesn’t really matter that much. The world around me seems to shout through its megaphone, that anything and everything is good, right and acceptable.
“Have what you want. Do whatever you want and be whoever you want to be. It’s your life and you can have it your way.”
But God’s word says the opposite.
My growing concern is that I/we, the church, the body of Christ, His kingdom people have “summer feet” hearts. Have we grown so accustomed to sin that we no longer feel the sting of sin? Have we accepted sin as normal? Have we forgotten we belong to a Holy God that calls us to righteousness? Do we laugh at what causes God to grieve? Have we grown callous and desensitized to what God calls evil?
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who turn darkness to light and light to darkness, who replace bitter with sweet and sweet with bitter.” Isaiah 5:20
As I wrote in last week’s blog, Martha, “Stop! Make a U-turn!” (Click here.)
James 4:8-10 offers the answer:
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
I am moved to cry out with David. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Isaiah 51:10
Lord, I don’t want to run across the lawn of life, untouched by my sin or the world's sin, that grieves Your heart. I desire a responsive heart that remains tender before You. I want to flinch at the slightest personal sin and grieve and mourn over the sin of the world around me. I want to look upon my city and weep over its condition. I want to feel the gentle nudge of your Spirit convicting me. Break my heart with what breaks Yours.
“Awaken our hearts to Your great grace that has forgiven all of our sin and made a way for us to have an unbroken relationship with You.
Oh, what joy comes when I ponder this great grace."
Next week’s blog will offer some spiritual practices that keep our hearts tender and responsive before the Lord. Watch for “Summer Feet- Part 2”.
Please join us for our weekly study of “Living the Blessed Life” - A close look at the Beatitudes.