James 4:9

9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.

I must say, just reading this verse on its own is not very uplifting. We must be careful, however, not to look at verses like this out of context (as is usually done and spurns an argument about scripture). However, let’s actually think about what James is saying here.

The laughter and joy here is in reference to our worldly views and lives. It’s not a purely happy laughter and joy, rather a fake laughter and joy. It is the laughter we use to cover up our sadness. It’s the joy we portray on a Sunday morning to tell everyone we’re “fine”. Double-minded indeed. James is calling us to a refreshing view of the world, that through Christ’s love and His purpose for us.

This verse is in reference to the last, better clarifying what he meant by “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts,” He is telling us that in order to cleanse ourselves we must first break through our denial, which will bring mourning and weeping. We mustn’t let this scare us because Christ promised us in the book of Mathew, “4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Again, James letter is to show us what pure spirituality looks like. This is part of it. The breaking down of our worldly views, our hurts that we hide and try to ignore but still sit in the back of our minds. The bravado that we use to pump up our chests and protect ourselves from vulnerability.

What good is an apple with a rotten center? How strong is a house with a crumbled foundation? So too is our body and our souls. If the inside of us is impure, damaged, and otherwise rotten, it doesn’t matter what our façade is, it will never be as strong as we think it is or we want it to be. Unfortunately, the majority of us have to completely crumble before we start looking for a way to rid ourselves of the rottenness within us.

Most recovery circles would see this verse as an allusion to Step 4: Inventory. This is when we, usually for the first time, look at ourselves truthfully. We look at the truth behind the layers that we have taken years to build. “An ogre is like an onion, it has layers.” (if you’ve seen Shrek, you know what scene I’m talking about here. We tend to form layers to keep the tenderness protected and seemingly invincible. We become an ogre on the outside (ugly in comparison to the true tenderness on the inside) in order to protect ourselves.

To cleanse ourselves, we must peel away the layers and examine the wounds of our past in order to be rid of their effects. It is in this process, which involves being miserable, mourning, and weeping, that we cleanse ourselves of the double-mindedness that prevents us from being who we were designed to be. Keep in mind this is for everyone, not just unbelievers, not just believers. This is why I always say that CR is for EVERYONE.

What layers have you built over the years? What are they “protecting”?

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