Nowadays, I can rarely make it through a worship service without tears. Sometimes it’s the songs, sometimes the sermon, possibly communion or often the quiet meditation time at the end. It has become necessary for me to go to church with Kleenex tissue packets in my bag!
Before you all rush me to the psychiatrist for some meds, let’s consider: is there a proper place for tears in worship?
In Luke 7, when Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to eat at his house, a sinful woman brought her alabaster jar and worshiped Jesus.
44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
The woman’s tears surely fall in recognition of her sin. It is right and appropriate to feel sorrow for our sins. But the kisses and precious perfume poured out on His feet are not the depressed acts of a woman with no hope. No! They are the bitter-sweet worship of a woman who understands her sinfulness and who places all her faith and trust in her Savior, the One who can cleanse and heal her soul.
50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
There are perhaps tears that have no place in worship. Tears shed to draw attention to myself. Or tears born of doubt and bitterness.
But some tears are worship.Tears born of love for my Savior. Tears that show sorrow for sin and simultaneously deep appreciation for the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Himself wept. Over Lazarus (John 11) and over Jerusalem (Luke 19).
From Hebrews 5:7
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
Such a fascinating verse. Surely the weeping of Jesus acknowledged suffering, but could never have been in despair. He trusted God completely, obeying even to His death. These prayers, offered with tears, were heard because of his reverence. Some bibles translate “reverence” as piety or fear of God.
When our tears spring from a healthy reverence and fear of God, God hears. May I never be guilty of manufacturing tears for show. But if tears arise out of my recognition of my sin and my joy and delight in the mercy and grace of Jesus, may my wet worship continue.