In such a time as this, as our hearts mourn the destruction of hurricanes throughout our land and the horror of the murderous rampage in Las Vegas, we may wonder how to respond. One Bible passage that gives a wonderful heart response are the “Ten Commandments” of James 4:7-10.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
The ten commands in this passage are expressed by these words:
- Submit to God: We must order ourselves under God’s authority and surrender ourselves to His will and service.
- Resist the Devil: Refuse to listen to Satan’s lies that God does not love us. Resist demonic temptations to get angry at God for allowing the devastations we see.
- Draw nigh to God: Spend time seeking God through the Scripture, in supplication, and songs of praise.
- Cleanse your hands: commit yourself to work for the glory of God’s name. Refuse to use your hands to fulfill the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life.
- Purify your hearts: Confess your sins to God and forsake them daily. Take up your cross and follow Jesus, knowing that His forgiveness is real, and His righteousness is our perfect standing.
- Be afflicted: Put yourself in the place of those who have suffered extreme loss. Ask yourself, what if my husband, wife, or child was taken from me? What if my home was destroyed in a moment of time?
- Mourn: Lament for those who are in pain. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
- Weep: Ask God to touch your heart with the same compassion Jesus had when he “beheld the city, and wept over it,” knowing of Jerusalem’s coming desolation Luke 19:41.
- Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness: There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecc.3:4). When tragedy strikes, we ought to bear one another’s burdens and mourn with those who mourn.
- Humble yourself and He will lift you up: Commit yourself and those who are undergoing such distress into the mighty hand of our all-knowing God. “All things work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). As you obey this last command, claim the promise that accompanies it.
May God “lift up” and have mercy upon our land, bring healing to hearts ravaged by terror, rebuild homes ravaged by storms, and save many who call upon Him in true repentance and faith. Our hearts do mourn, weep, and share in the grief of so many who have suffered loss, and we will seek to humble ourselves under the mighty and loving hand of our Savior Jesus Christ so that He will lift us up with His saving hand.
Matt Recker is the pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in New York City.