Daniel was one of the godliest persons in the whole of Scripture. It was not so much because he was wise and insightful, savvy and ingenious. He was certainly those things. But what made Daniel godly was his tremendous sensitivity to sin. It drove him to prayer. It led him to fast. It caused him to cry out to God with a great penitential confession. Now, mind you, Daniel did not have all this concern because of his own personal failings; he was not the one running from God. Yet, he identified so closely with his fellow Jews that he was totally distraught over their disloyalty to God’s covenant stipulations. In other words, Israel simply did not care to obey God and they were not concerned to offer any kind of prayer of confession. Daniel did for them what they either would not or could not do for themselves.
The Lord Jesus told his disciples what truly characterizes a person of righteousness. He said that God’s stamp of approval rests upon those who mourn (Matthew 5:4). Genuinely godly people react emotionally over sin – not only theirs, but the sins of others. Dwelling in the light of God’s presence will always cause us to discern the blackness of sin in all its foul depravity. To not grieve over sin and disobedience is to not know God.
Every human being is rushing toward eternity, and will be judged according to God’s gracious revealing of himself and his ways for humanity. The person who grasps this reality cannot help but grieve over sin. He mourns over the sins and the callous disregard of God in his nation. He mourns over the greed, the hate, the cynicism, and the base lack of integrity around him. Indeed, such a person mourns that there are so few mourners.
Merciful God, I confess to you the sins of your people – their inattention to the things that are most important to you. I grieve over the state of so many that do not know your grace and goodness. I am ashamed before you that so few are sensitive to sin, even in your church. To you, Lord God, belongs mercy and forgiveness. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. To you do I plead on behalf of the sins of many so that your grace will become operative through Jesus Christ. Amen.