It was my last Hebrew paper in seminary, the paper designed to show my skill in using the language to explain the text. As it turned out, the paper was about a lot more than skill. It became one of the most convicting moments I ever experienced.
The assigned passage was Psalm 32, one of David’s two confession psalms after his sin with Bathsheba, and a passage filled with the most penetrating words of pain and grief over sin you can read. As I read the intense language in the psalm I thought, “I never want to fill pain like that.” Two minutes later, I was filled with the same pain. I had misled a fellow DTS student nine months before, and the Holy Spirit used David’s words to convict me of my broken integrity. I could not escape that convicting power as I rose up out of my chair and paced back and forth in deep sorrow and grief for sin. Finally, in a desperate effort to escape that pain, I promised the Lord I would seek the man out and confess my lack of integrity to him as soon as I returned to Dallas two weeks later. That promise brought me peace, and that peace lasted until I returned to Dallas and tried to avoid confessing my sin to my friend. Immediately the pain of grief and mourning for sin stood at my doorstep, and I hastened to tell him what I had done. He had checked on what I told him, knew it was misleading, but overlooked my deception and forgave me on the spot. I had the comfort of knowing all was well between him and me.
Awareness of spiritual poverty—bankruptcy—brings grief for sin. Once we realize the damage our sin does to others and to ourselves, we are thrown into grief Depending on the severity of our sin and the tenderness of our conscience, that grief can penetrate us deeply. Until that act of deception I thought I was a man of integrity, but I discovered through Psalm 32 that I struggled as much as anyone with being a man of my word, and the Holy Spirit forced me to confess that reality so I could never deny it t again. As a result of that time of mourning for my sin brought on by the Holy Spirit, I have sought never to mislead again.
That time of mourning for my sin was a time of great blessing in my life. It showed me my spiritual poverty I had never seen before and, I would have denied, but the pain of my grief made it impossible for me to deny it ever again. It also showed me that God is serious about His demand for confession and confessing to Him alone is not enough because confessing sin to another brings me shame and broken pride I wish to avoid. All of that is good, a blessing, because I trade my bankruptcy for His bounty, but the withdrawal Jesus makes from my pride is so painful I don’t want to pay that price again. So I say, Blessed are those who mourn.