As you listen to these verses, just hear what Ezra did when he realized how the people, how the returned exiles had sinned.
“When I heard this, I tore my garment and my robe, and I pulled the hair out from my head and beard, and I sat appalled. Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel because of the sin of the returned exiles were gathered around me and I sat appalled until the evening offering. At the evening offering I got it from my mourning posture and, with my garment and robe torn, I fell down on my knees and I spread out my palms to Yahweh my God and said, ‘My God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you, my God. For our sins have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.”
What a response to sinfulness among God’s people. When Ezra saw sin around him, maybe even, yes, to some extent in him, he was broken, like so broken over sin before God that he fell on his face weeping, just overwhelmed by the offense of sin against God. God, I pray for this kind of humility and brokenness over sin in my life. I pray for this kind of brokenness and humility over sin when I see sin around me. Ezra’s doing this not just for his own sin, but when he sees others in sin. He’s broken, he’s pleading before you for mercy.
God, please help us to see sin seriously like this, to cry out for your mercy. God, we’re so casual with sin today. We’re so casual with sin, like it doesn’t seem like that big a deal to us to disobey you. God, forgive us for this, forgive us for this. I just pray right now for my own heart and for the hearts of those who are listening right now. God, please change our hearts. Help us to grieve over sin in us and around us, and to cry out for your mercy and your grace. And we praise you for your faithfulness, for your love, for your mercy, for your grace. Jesus, we praise you for paying the price for our sin.
So God, yes, yes, help us not to unnecessarily wallow in guilt and condemnation when your Word says, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, you are forgiven.” So help us to feel that too, help us to feel the wonder and the weight of that, because we feel the weight of our sin against you. And help us to see the seriousness of sin and feel it, and at the same time, believe your grace and your mercy, and feel the wonder of your grace and mercy that wipes our sin away. Jesus, we praise you for your salvation. God, we praise you for your grace and mercy. Make us a people who grieve over sin and rejoice in grace. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
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