Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. (ESV)
I remember one Sunday after a church service I was approached by a "not-so-happy" parishioner. The man told me that he did not like my preaching. I inquired as to what was wrong with it. He informed me that when I preached it did not make him feel good. I let him know that it was actually not my goal to make him feel good. It was job to tell him the truth. Feeling good was not my department.
Whether or not you have actually known someone like this man, you can probably agree that many people do not want to hear things that make them feel bad. Many people view church as a weekly "spiritual pat on the back." If they don't get their "atta-boy" they will move on to the next church who is willing to oblige them.
Listen to the force of James' words in this verse. He moves beyond encouraging people to feel badly. He tells them to be wretched and mourn and weep. Why would he say such a thing? Maybe he never pastored a church. I mean, doesn't he realize how many people would leave the church if they heard such a thing?
James wants the one in his sin to respond properly. If you are living in sin you are to mourn and weep over it. The reality is that sin breaks God's heart. If we knew just how holy and loving God is, we would be appropriately devastated that we engaged in sin that would grieve the heart of the Savior. God is far more interested in making us holy, than making us feel good.
Sometimes bad news is the best news. If the truth of God's Word challenges you to renounce sin and grieve over it, that is the best news possible. Hear God's Word today. Respond accordingly.