Christianity 201

February 9, 2022

True or False? Spiritually Mature People Don’t Cry

This is, I believe, our tenth time sharing the writing of Gary Henry at WordPoints. Click the header below to read this there, and then check out other devotionals.

In This We Groan

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:1,2).

CREATED FOR FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD BUT LIVING IN A WORLD THAT IS BROKEN BY SIN, WE FREQUENTLY FIND OURSELVES CRYING OUT FOR RELIEF.

We earnestly desire, as Paul put it, “to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.” And most of us have observed that “groaning” is not too strong a word for what we do when the troubles of this world press down upon us.

We need to be reminded that groaning is not wrong. Rather than the act of a weak person, it’s often that of a strong person whose eyes are open to what has gone wrong in the world. Isn’t Jesus the most notable example of how a strong person can sorrow? As He approached the tomb of His friend Lazarus, He “wept” (John 11:35). Then the account says that He arrived at the tomb “groaning in Himself” (v.38). We need to dispense with the idea that spiritually mature people never hurt and never cry.

Not only is groaning not inconsistent with godliness, but here is another amazing thing: groaning is not inconsistent with joy! The most joyous of God’s people are those who deeply, and even sorrowfully, cry out for His redemption. Indeed, it’s often the bitterness of groaning that makes our hope so sweet. The godly life fits the definition of “bittersweet,” and it’s quite appropriately compared to childbirth, an ordeal full of groaning, surely, but not without the joy that comes from hope: “The whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Romans 8:22).

The Psalmist sang that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). “In this we groan,” said Paul, speaking of our fleshly bodies. But if we’re faithful in our walk with God, our groaning is helping us get to our goal more fervently. Groaning and earnestly desiring are simply two sides of the same coin. The gospel, after all, is good news, but only to those who’ve sorrowed over their separation from God. Having obeyed the good news, they’re now yearning for a final homecoming with Him, reaching forward to that day with every ache of their hearts.

“Life is a bridge of groans across a stream of tears” (Philip James Bailey).


Here’s a bonus devotional from Gary at WordPoints. Again, click the header below to explore this and other devos there.


Unconditional Surrender

“And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 8:5).

TO SEEK GOD SINCERELY IS TO GIVE OURSELVES TO HIM COMPLETELY.

The good things that come from life in God come to those who yield themselves to Him entirely. If we hold back parts of our hearts or our lives from His benevolence, we will miss the unique blessings that flow from commitment. If we sow sparingly, we will not reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6).

“A living sacrifice” is the expression Paul used to characterize the yielding of ourselves to God: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). In the Law of Moses, animals that were sacrificed to God had to be slain. It was not possible for the worshiper to retain the living animal for himself and still give a part of it to the Lord. The very life of the animal itself had to be given. Corresponding to those sacrifices, our offering must be total. Although ours is a “living” sacrifice, the gift must be no less complete than if our bodies were to be slain. God deserves no less than our all, both inwardly and outwardly.

But the partial approach not only tries to give God less than He deserves, but it involves us in great difficulty and frustration. Just as a timid soul can’t leap a large chasm by taking two medium-sized jumps, the requirements of our new life can’t be met by the half-hearted efforts of our old mind. If we try to hang on to all that we think is ours and give God only enough of our outward behavior to get us to heaven, we are attempting the impossible. The old self will never be happy having to give up parts of itself to God. Since it never relinquishes its own desires except when forced to do so, the old self will never find Jesus’ yoke “easy” and His burden “light” (Matthew 11:30). So the old self must die and a new self must come to life. We must be “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). When that happens, we will then find that the Lord’s “commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

“The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, ‘Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good’” (C. S. Lewis).

 

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: