A Broken Spirit
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
Over the years, the various cars that I have owned have broken down a few times; not many, but enough to be recalled fairly easily: a clutch failing at a roundabout; a flat tyre on a motorway; an undiscovered cause in the middle of the country. This last one was particularly interesting as, when Martin went to the nearest house, on the wall by the phone (this was before the era of mobile phones!) was a list of phone numbers of the local garages and breakdown trucks. Clearly, others had broken down on the same road before him!
Today’s verse reminds us that it is all right to be ‘broken down’ before God. In fact, the best offering we can bring to God isn’t money or possessions; it is ‘a broken and contrite heart’.
This strikes at two things: our outer actions and our inner lives. We all too often think that we can please God by our outward actions when the inner attitude of our heart is not right. Are we truly sorry for our sin? Are we real in wanting to stop sinning? Then what really pleases God is a humble attitude of deep sorrow at that sin, not a quick and easy prayer that ignores our intention of carrying on doing that particular thing. Of course, repentance strikes right at the heart of our human pride: when we think we know best, that in ourselves we are good enough without God, that our natural achievements can secure us a firm place in heaven; all that has to go if we are to be truly broken before God.
I well remember the challenge given by one of the former pastors of the church that I am member of. ‘When was the last time you repented? Last year, last month, last week?’ A good question! Let’s remember today that in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, it was the latter who ‘went home justified before God’, for it was he who called out, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ (Luke 18:13-14). Such calls are never left unanswered!
‘Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ (Luke 18:14)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont