II. THE FUNCTION OF TEARS
A. Concerning Salvation
Tears are not something that a person can control. If you can shed tears whenever you want to, those tears lose their meaning and value. Any tears that are not shed because of anguish in the heart are meaningless and fabricated. Although tears are involuntary, everyone has tears and sheds tears. If you say that you have never shed any tears, you must be a heartless person and cannot possibly be a Christian.
Let me now say a few words to the unbelieving friends. Do you know that tears can bring a person to the Lord Jesus and draw a person closer to the God in heaven? Tears remove the obstacles and replace sin with repentance. Friends! Do you know sin? Do you know the significance of sin? Have you ever repented of your sins to the point that you shed your tears? If you have never felt sorrowful for your sins, I wonder whether or not you have a heart. If a person has never shed tears for his sins, he has a heart of stone; he does not have any emotions or feelings. The way your heart feels about sin is expressed in your eyes. Oh, sin is real! I do not need to mention your sins before God. I only need to mention some of your sins before men and it will become obvious to you. Please consider how much you have offended others. You have owed, cheated, and taken advantage of those whom you know, such as your parents, wife, brothers, relatives, friends, classmates, and colleagues. You may have things that are not clearly dealt with and accounts that are not clearly settled yet. All these are sins. If you do not deal with them, you cannot draw near to God. This is a most serious matter. Do you know how serious sin is? You have sinned and even now are filled with sin. These many sins will bring you to the abyss. Friends! Repent! Turn! Wash yourselves with your tears! Only the blood can wash you. But that is only the first thing that washes you. There is still the second thing, which is your tears. In other words, sin is washed away before God by the blood, but it is washed away in your heart by tears. One thing is sure: before God, tears can never wash one’s sins away; only the Lord’s blood can wash one’s sins away. But the blood calls for tears also. One has to add the tears to the blood. Even if there is the Lord’s redemption, without man’s repentance and hatred for sin, there is no washing. Therefore, if you want to have the subjective experience, tears are indispensable. Consider what the men of ancient times did.
Lamentations 2:18 says, "Their heart cried to the Lord:/ O wall of the daughter of Zion,/Let tears run down like a strea/Day and night;/Give yourself no respite;/Let not the pupil of your eye cease." Why did the Israelites weep so much? They wept in repentance for their sins, for the captivity of Zion, the occupation of Jerusalem, and the carrying away of the Israelites to the east of the river Euphrates. At such hopeless times, they wept for their sins and for the destruction of their nation and temple. I deeply hope that more tears will come from you, and that they will flow out as a river day and night.
Unbelieving friends, I wish that you would weep! All those who smile at sin do not know sin. Neither do they know their destiny. All those who have never shed tears do not know the love of God and the preciousness of Christ. All those who never weep for their sins do not know the joy of forsaking sins. Tears for our sins are something indispensable. Have you offended anyone? Have you stolen from others? Do you have pride, jealousy, or anger? Indeed, you have sinned against God in many areas, and you have also sinned against man. The only thing that will solve the problems is tears. However, if a person only sheds tears outwardly without feeling remorse in his heart, it is useless. Therefore, tears are not merely something outward. The source of tears is the heart. Only that which issues from the heart and feeling can touch others.
The New Testament makes it more clear that tears are for the repentance of sins. Please read Luke 7:38: "And she stood behind Him at His feet weeping and began to wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head, and she kissed His feet affectionately and anointed them with the ointment." Then verse 44 says, "But she, with her tears, has wet My feet and with her hair has wiped them." Friends, have you seen tears of this kind? There are many kinds of tears in this world. Some are shed over disappointment; others are shed over anxiety. Some are shed as a result of extreme joy (though rare); others are shed because the environment is too harsh and painful. Sometimes they come from extreme hatred, at other times from anger or arguments. There are all kinds of reasons for tears. But have you seen the kind of tears that this woman had, tears that were shed as a result of extreme sorrow for her own sin?
The Lord’s blood cleanses all of man’s sins. But if tears are not added to the blood, it will not be effective in man. Once Alexander received a letter from another person accusing his mother of all her sins, listing the numerous sinful things that his mother had done. The intention of the letter was to condemn Alexander’s mother. But in Alexander’s reply, there was only one sentence, "My mother’s tears have washed away all her sins," and the matter was put to rest.
No matter how many tears you shed, nothing can wash away your sins before God. But there is another aspect that is just as real. Although Jesus Christ has died, the effectiveness of the blood will not be realized in us unless there are tears. No one can receive the Lord and be saved if he has never repented and shed tears for his sins. This can never happen. Every true believer of the Lord has had the experience of repentance. I have a friend who once said that there are two medicines to deal with sin. One is the blood of the Lord, and the other is our own tears. This may sound strange, but it is true. Indeed, no one who puts his trust in the blood is without tears. This is what the types in the Old Testament tell us also. Those who did not remove the leaven were not able to keep the feast of Passover. Those who did not eat the unleavened bread could not partake of the lamb. As much as the blood is a most important thing, there is the need for warm tears of repentance also. Otherwise, the matter is not over. We must have the Lord’s blood in our hands, and we must add onto that a few teardrops. The tears have to be mingled with the blood. If a man has never felt sorry for his past sins, he can never be saved.
We are not speaking about the function of tears with respect to our salvation today. Therefore, we will not elaborate on this. Now we want to consider what tears mean to our brothers and sisters, those who are saved among us. In the story of the woman, she wiped the Lord’s feet with her tears. When we come to the Lord, although we may not have very much money to buy ointment to anoint His head and His feet, we can offer to Him our tears. Thank the Lord! The ointment is good, but the tears are better. It is better to come to the Lord with tears than to come to Him without tears. Let us all bring the tears in our eyes to Him! Now let us consider what the Bible teaches about the ways believers should use their tears.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 19: Notes on Scriptural Messages (3), Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)