Monday, April 28, 2014

Weep Now, Laugh Later

The words of Jesus in Luke 6:21b and Luke 6:25b form a matched pair of a blessing and a woe, to say:
”Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” ... “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”

What makes you cry? We’re all different, in this respect. Some people weep at the drop of a hat, and others only cry a few times in their lives. Most of us are in between these extremes.

So, what makes you cry? Is it a sad moment in a book or a film? Is it the death of someone you love? Extreme pain? Betrayal? Or the memory of those gone for a long time? I think memories cause more tears to be shed than injuries do. But what about sin? Are you ever so sorry for your sins against God that you weep before him?

Most of us guard our emotions deep within our hearts, but weeping and crying bring those emotions very obviously out into the open. That’s the way God made us.

There is nothing inherently sinful about laughing, or anything particularly holy and sanctified about weeping. The writer of Ecclesiastes told us that there are times for both. Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: ... a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

And Paul wrote in Romans 12:15:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Very shortly after saying, “Blessed are you who weep now”, Jesus said (in Luke 6:23) that those who are persecuted for the sake of his name should rejoice and leap for joy. Rejoicing in this life is not a sin.

So why then does Jesus say it’s good to weep now and laugh later, and bad to laugh now and weep later?

Well, in a way, it’s all about timing. There’s a time to weep and a time to laugh. Laughing is okay, but sometimes it’s time to weep. And in this fallen world, there are there a many occasions for weeping.

Our sin and the sins of others give many reasons for the righteous to mourn. But the unrighteous will have a different attitude to sin. They will laugh, and say, “Don’t worry – be happy!”

There are two ways of mourning over sin that characterise those in the kingdom. I’ll go into both of these in more detail over the next two posts, providing examples from scripture:
  1. Weeping in sincere sorrow and repentance over our own sins, which we have sinned against God.
  2. Weeping over the ongoing consequences of sin in our own lives, and in the lives of others, both in the church and in the world.

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