Isaiah 66: 2 says: “But on this one will I look; on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My Word.” The same sentiment is echoed in the Psalms, where it says: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart-these O God You will not despise” (Psa. 51: 17). The contrite spirit is the brokenhearted person who is crushed beneath the weight of his sin. The humble spirit is the person who bows before God, and with a warm and tender heart, acknowledges his sinfulness and total dependence on Him.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said His kingdom would be composed to those with this disposition. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and “Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5: 3-4). “Poor in spirit” points to what a man IS, not what he HAS! It describes one who recognizes he is spiritually bankrupt, and knows within himself there is nothing to justify him before God. Understanding his condition, he MOURNS over his sin, and his only plea is “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk. 18: 13). James 4: 7-10 is appropriate here. One must submit to God, which involves clean hands and a pure heart. “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psa. 24: 3-4).
Only when we realize our own ignorance will we ask for God’s guidance. Only when we realize our own poverty in the things that really matter will we seek for the riches of God’s grace. Only when we realize our own spiritual weakness will we draw upon God’s strength. Only when we realize our own sin will we realize our need of a Savior, and of God’s forgiveness. So long as a person regards himself as independent of God he is on his way to ultimate collapse and defeat. Therefore, our prayer should be like that of David, who prayed: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving kindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies. Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions…Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psa. 51:1-3, 10).
The way to acceptance with God is through true humility and contriteness of spirit. This teaches us that the “way up to God is first down.” The road to genuine greatness is along the way to complete surrender. Those who turn to God in penitence and obedience, however great their sin, can be assured of full and complete pardon.
What about you, my friend? Is your heart humble and contrite? Do you tremble at His Word? Think on these things.
Dennis Abernathy—White Oak Church of Christ
P,O, Box 454
White Oak, TX 75693