Our sin is a tragedy. It is a tragedy that would rightly result in grief and lament. And yet we can easily prefer ‘cheap grace’— especially if we have grown up in a Christian context that preaches the good news of God’s grace so very well. And yet, it is God’s grace that instructs us on the significance of our sin. Because our sin was so grievous to God, such an outrage, it necessitated the death of his own son. It is was only God’s abundance of grace that could bridge such a travesty. Indeed, the greater our appreciation of God’s grace, the more we perceive the horror of our own sin.
Consequently, learning to lament our sins— even as Christians justified by faith, freely forgiven by grace— deepens our engagement with God. I think that something like this is what James has in mind when he writes:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:7-10)
As an exercise in ‘lamenting your own sins’ this week, join with King David in praying his prayer of lament in Psalm 51. Your sins may be different to his, but his prayer is both an appropriate response of faith in God’s grace, as well as training our hearts to grieve as God does over our sin.