In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. We’ve been looking at God’s law as summarised in the ten commandments and started by examining the first commandment: ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3). We’ve seen that the first commandment requires that you acknowledge and worship God by remembering, esteeming, honouring, loving, desiring, fearing, trusting, praising, obeying and pleasing him; and by hoping, delighting and rejoicing in him; and by being zealous for him. But how else can you worship God?
If God is your god then you should be sorrowful if you offend him. When you really upset your mother so that she bursts into tears about your behaviour, you will generally get upset too. You should be mortified that you have caused such grief to your mother who has shown you so much love over the years. And if you don’t get upset, then that speaks volumes about your relationship.
So if you’re not sorrowful for offending your Heavenly Father, you have to ask, ‘Is the Lord is actually my God?’
David is a good example of someone whose guilt before God upset him: ‘1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me. 3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. 4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. 9 All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. 10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes’ (Psalm 38:1-10). David worships God in his sorrow over sin.
And not only should we be grieved when we don’t obey God’s word, it should upset us when we see others disobeying God. For example, the Psalmist says: ‘Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed’ (Psalm 119:136).
And the apostle Paul was also grieved by the sin of others: ‘For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things’ (Philippians 3:18-19).
Thankfully, our tears over offending God can turn to rejoicing because of what Jesus has done. If we trust in Jesus, God mercifully forgives our offences through Christ bearing our punishment at the cross. As David says, we won’t remain in God’s displeasure: ‘For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning’ (Psalm 30:5)
So do you worship God by being sorrowful for your sin? Have you trusted in Christ so that you can stop crying and instead rejoice in God’s grace to you? Joel Radford.