August 16, 2021

Grieving When Other People Sin

“Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.” Psalms 119:136 (NIV)


Christians have various reactions when other people sin. We hear things every day that shock, anger, and appall us. But when was the last time the sin in our culture caused you sorrow? There’s a difference between being indignant and being grieved; between being offended and mourning the fact that sin offends God.


In today’s stanza of Psalm 119, the psalmist wept because people around him were breaking God’s law. We shouldn’t, however, confuse his reaction with being judgmental. He was sensitive to the sin around him because he was first sensitive to the sin within him (v133). His awareness had been heightened by a deep “longing for [God’s] commands” (v131 NIV).


This kind of thirst for God and His Word is beautifully described in Psalm 42:1, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (NIV). Believers who long and thirst for God are bothered by sin—in their own lives, in their community, and in their nation.


But if we’re not mindful we become like the frog in the kettle. We can get so accustomed to the world’s way of thinking that we’re no longer sensitive to being surrounded by sin. Things that used to grieve our hearts begin to barely cause a reaction. That’s when we’re most susceptible to developing sinful habits of our own. 


The Bible teaches us to recognize sin. The more we get to know Scripture the more aware we become. Remember, the theme of this entire chapter is love and reverence for God’s Word. So if we love it then we feel genuine sorrow when it’s broken—either personally or in the culture around us.


How do you react when other people sin? Are you reading, watching, and listening to things that program your mind to the world’s way of thinking? Or, do you thirst for God and His Word? You cannot long for God and crave sin at the same time. Get into the Bible and ask God to make you sensitive to sin in your own life. Then you’ll not only see it more easily in our culture but you’ll grieve over it. And like the psalmist, godly sorrow will fuel your prayers.