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Call to Repentance for Self-Centered Living pt. 2

9 Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:9-10)

Continuing on from yesterday and how the readers of James’ letter needed to repent for their sin of turning away from God and aligning themselves with the world, James tells them to “be miserable and mourn and weep.” They were being told to grieve due to the shame of their sinful behavior. As Thomas Lea writes, “Mourning and weeping are the outward evidences of this sense of wretchedness.” Paul highlights God’s grace and forgiveness despite our sinful nature in Romans 7:24-25, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.” There is a constant battle within to fight against the sin nature within. This idea of grief and mourning should motivate the believers to not disobey again. To highlight this state of brokenness due to their sin, James continues, stating “Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” Anders writes, “Laughter and joy are not evil. However, the particular moments when we meet God as sinners demand a serious repentance rather than hilarious celebration…There is a right time to rejoice and a right time to mourn.”

Closing this section with verse 10, James gives a challenge with a promise at the end, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” The image of someone bowing prostrate before a king seeking forgiveness is what James is conveying with the word “humble.” If we truly look at ourselves in light of who God is, we are fallen sinners deserving His judgment, resulting in eternal damnation in hell. Yet, by God’s grace and mercy, God offers the free gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of His own Son, Jesus Christ, that whoever repents and believes in Him will be saved. We are not worthy of such a great mercy being bestowed, and yet, the Lord does so because He loves us so much. Therefore, may we humble ourselves before our King, following Him with our entire being, asking for forgiveness when we fall short, and in the end, He promises not only to withhold judgment, but to even exalt, lift us up, empowering us to continue to persevere, and fill us with hope of the future glorification in heaven.


Isaac De Guzman


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