Grief, the sins of others, and our own sins are causes for weeping. This article shows that in this life Christians will weep. However, in heaven there will be no more weeping.

Source: Australian Presbyterian, 2001. 2 pages.

A Time to Weep The Christian, like the Bible, is no stranger to tears

Anybody who has ever tried to memorise Scripture knows that the shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, “Jesus wept”. Since the sinless Son of God wept, it is clear that weeping is not wrong in itself, but it is one of the indicators of the fallen nature of this world. The world being what it is, there is a time to weep as well as a time to laugh (Eccles. 3:4).

The tragedies of this world can cause us to weep. David, for example, broke down and wept when his rebellious son Absalom was killed: “O my son Absalom — my son, my son Absalom — if only I had died in your place” (2 Sam. 18:33; see too Mt. 2:18; Luke 7:13; 8:52). Nehemiah wept when the wall of Jerusalem was bro­ken down and its gates burned with fire (Neh. 1:4).

Such is to be the Christian’s sympathy with those who suffer that he or she is to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). The great apostle was apparently not influenced by the Stoic belief that “manly men do not cry”.

Weeping is also associated with sorrow over sin (e.g. Jer. 31:9). Repentance includes grief over sin, and a hatred of it, and this may lead to weeping. The woman who was a sinner wept in Jesus’ presence and washed his feet with her tears because she was overcome with love for him and sorrow at her sin (Luke 7:38). In his Confessions Augustine often weeps as he remembers his sins, and his continued struggle with sin.

The sins of others should also grieve any who care for the souls of others. In contemplating the fallenness of the world and the horror of its sin, Christ wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44). He could have wept for what he would go through the false accusations, the mocking, the scourging, the nails through the hands and feet, the thirst, the spear in the side, and being forsaken by the Father. One might think that there was some scope for justifiable self-pity. But Christ did not weep for himself but for Jerusalem which was bringing judgment upon itself.

Jeremiah too could be moved to tears (Jer. 9:1), while the apostle Paul was no stranger to weeping. He wept and prayed for his fellow Israelites (Rom. 9:1-3; 10:1). At Ephesus he had tears in his eyes as he warned sinners of their state (Acts 20:31; see too Phil. 3:18). To correct erring Christians caused him great anguish of heart because of his love for them. When people sinned, it tore Paul apart to have to correct them (2 Cor. 2:4).

George Whitefield was both a Calvinist and an evangelist in fact, England’s greatest ever evangelist. It was not unknown for him to weep as he preached or prayed for the salvation of sinners. Andrew Bonar once told Robert Murray M’Cheyne that he had preached the previous Lord’s Day on “The wicked shall be turned into hell”, and on hearing  that, M’Cheyne asked Bonar: “Were you able to preach it with tenderness?” We are to preach hard things, but not in a hard way.

We are assured that God is not indif­ferent to the tears of his children. In the wilderness David prayed: “You number my wanderings; put my tears into your bottle; are they not in your book?” (Ps. 56:8). Hence, for the Christian, there is the promise that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).

On this earth, a Christian may weep over life’s tragedies and disasters, and over his own sins and the sins of others. The Fall has ravaged us all, and, despite the real joys of this life, there is neverthe­less much labour and sorrow. In hell, how­ever, there is only weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt. 8:12; 13:42, 50; 25:30). Under the unrelieved justice of God, there will be only the miseries of earth multiplied, with no compensating joys. People will weep for sin, but in regret, not in repentance. These are tears which flow as the truth is understood, too late.

In heaven, as a contrast, God will wipe away every tear from the eyes of his peo­ple (Rev. 7:17). In the beautiful words of Revelation 21:4, where God speaks of those who are members of the new heaven and the new earth: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

There is nothing to mar the joy of heaven, so weeping is out of place. Sin had been dealt with, and all its terrible conse­quences are no more. The people of God shall indeed glorify him and enjoy him forever.

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