A Christian friend of mine was concerned because she is very sad about her grandfather’s house being sold as it meant so much to her being so replete with halcyon memories. She asked me, " is this a sin?" I replied by saying, “I think it is perfectly natural to mourn the loss of a chapter that has meant so much to you. That is not a sin. A sin would be not to let go of things from the past- either joyful or painful memories. …” I shared these verses : Ecclesiastes 7:10 and Isaiah 43:18. How would you have responded?
Amy, I can very much sympathize with your friend! Some of us have very strong sentiment about things associated with fond memories. But can it ever be sinful?
Many times I have heard Ravi Zacharias tell what John Wesley’s mother said as a definition of sin:
“Whatever weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes away your relish for spiritual things, in short, if anything increases the authority and the power of the flesh over the spirit, that to you becomes sin however good it is in itself.”
I think that when we allow our sentiment to become too important in our lives, therefore controlling us, then it would be sin. When we allow it to become our god then we are no longer walking after the Spirit. But, to be sentimental is not a sin. You were right to say that it is natural and I think a healthy part of our spirits to have sentiment.
Hi @Ame, your friend’s story resonated with me. When I was a child my granny owned a dairy farm which I spent a lot of my childhood on. She sold it when I was about 11. I’d say for the next decade, I had a strong yearning for the place and the memories which I held so dearly. It always raised a deep feeling of sorrow in me to think the farm and those memories were long gone. I’d say the yearnings were more than they should have been. It was beyond what I felt I should have, even in the grief.
Finally, I surrendered it all to God - the longings, the strong attachments and overwhelming sadness I felt. When I did that, God removed the attachment from my heart, which I can only say was not how God wanted me to feel about the memories. From that day on, I could look fondly back at the memories and the place, without the burden of ungodly sorrow. I never looked on it as a sin, although I can see now that it was. I think the key thing was that until I let go of it all and handed it to God, I was holding back from God an area of my heart to heal. I think that I had let what @gchop described take hold of my heart until I put God back in his rightful place.
I agree with Carrie also, that we can place our sentiment on a higher level that it rightly deserves. It reminds me of CS Lewis’ journey to discovering God as living and real as told in his autobiography. In all his studies and reading of mythology, religion and philosophy in pursuit of knowing a deity (or otherwise), he finally realised he had been pursuing the feelings of joy that these stories gave him, even more than what they might have offered him about a true idea of God. It was only when he realised this, and decided to let go of it was he able to surrender to the true God. (I feel I’ve coarsely tried to paraphrase an entire book here, apologies that I’ve not done it justice, but I hope you get my point .)
I think you’ve counselled your friend well, and maybe encourage her to keep God at the centre of her grief and sorrow. Godly grief is necessary and healthy. When God is not at the centre does the grief turn into something it shouldn’t be, as I learned.