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Focus Verses: Lamentations 1:18-20
18 "The LORD is righteous, yet I rebelled against his command. Listen, all you peoples; look upon my suffering. My young men and maidens have gone into exile. 19 "I called to my allies but they betrayed me. My priests and my elders perished in the city while they searched for food to keep themselves alive. 20 "See, O LORD, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious. Outside, the sword bereaves; inside, there is only death."
Lamentations is the song of mourning and repentance the prophet Jeremiah offers up to God in the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of its people into captivity. The prophets didn't just point a finger and deliver words of judgment, they identified with the sin of their people—the very sin they spoke against. Notice how Jeremiah says, "I have rebelled. I am distressed. I am in torment within. I have been most rebellious."
No person, even the person who is declaring God's righteousness and warning of God's judgment, has the right to judge or condemn. Jeremiah was wise enough and humble enough to see that even he was guilty before God. Even though he was in the position of preaching against sin, he was able to identify with his people and recognize the sin in himself.
Response and Action:
I want to recognize sin, take it seriously, and turn away from it. I want to speak out against sin and encourage others to turn away from it. I must be careful to always see my own sin. I must never speak out against sin or condemn others as though I am without sin or above them.
I will always give my attention to the plank in my own eye before I worry about the speck in someone else's eye. I will identify with other sinners and come alongside them in their struggles to overcome sin. In every thought and conversation about sin, I will examine my own life first and then consider how I and others can turn toward God for forgiveness and redemption.
Have mercy on me, O God. I am a sinner. Help me to turn away from what is wrong and to do what is right. Lead me away from temptation. Deliver me from evil. Create in me a clean heart. Renew a right spirit within me. Restore and redeem me. Amen.
Spiritual Formation Verses: Proverbs: 20:9
Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin"?
Never Beyond Hope: How God Touches and Uses Imperfect People
by J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom