This quarter where I preach at the West Main Church in Lewisville we are studying the Old Testament period of the Judges. It was a time described this way. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Following the death of Joshua “another generation arose who did not know the Lord nor the work which he had done for Israel.” Soon they sinned, falling prey to the idol worship of their heathen neighbors. To punish them for their disobedience, God sent a foreign foe to oppress Israel. Finally, they would cry for deliverance. Then God would raise up a Judge to deliver them from their oppressor. This cycle is repeated again. And again. And again.
At one point during this period the writer revealed a very interesting statement about God’s attitude toward Israel. He said “His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel” (Jud 10:16). Think about the implications of that statement.
God is not aloof to the challenges we face. Our God is a God of feeling. Emotion. And sensitivity. He knows our problems. He feels our pain. He cares about our plight.
God is not an ogre in the sky waiting for us to mess up and eager to punish us. God is distressed by our disobedience. God is hurt by our sin. And grieves over our ungodliness.
In the days of Noah humankind sunk to a point where people’s thoughts were continually evil. When God saw the wickedness of the world, the Bible says “he was grieved in His heart” (Gen 6:6).
Psalm 78 describes Israel as they wandered through the wilderness forty years. Rebellious. Stubborn. Unfaithful. And sinful. But God continued to be patient with them. He showed compassion. He forgave them. And through it all He was “grieved.”
I wonder if we realize how much our sins and shortcomings grieve God? He created us to be “to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:12). He calls us to “be holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). He desires for us to “flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace” motived by a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22).
When we are filled with pride and selfishly seek our lusts, God is grieved. Like a parent whose heart aches when their children rebel and reject their values, God is hurt by our disobedience. The wise man wrote, “A foolish son is a grief to his father” (Prov. 17:25). Likewise we become a grief to God by following the carnal folly of sin.
This reminder causes me to think that I might be more careful about my attitudes and actions when I realize how God grieves for me. However, this calls for me to feel a consciousness of God in my life. Daily. In fact, the song, “I Need Thee Every Hour” better describes my reliance on God. If I am seriously walking with God, then I can be aware of the temptation to stray from the path. And when I do sin, then I will sincerely mourn over my transgressions (Ps 51).
When we love God with all our heart, soul and mind, then we do not want to hurt Him. Disappoint Him. Or cause Him grief. So my service to God becomes one not based on fear of failure, but a loving relationship committed to giving Him glory.
May I daily live with this admonition in mind. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman