Written: March 17, 2017 | Updated on February 15th, 2020 | Jun P. Espina | 7 min read
Broken Spirit and a Contrite Heart
We are closer to God only when we seem broken inwardly—in the spirit. It is the meaning of Psalm 51:17: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Hence, trials are necessary for a balanced life! They are God’s will for us to believe and humble ourselves before Him. They are divine mechanisms to remind us of our dust origin. God is near to those experiencing a broken spirit and having a contrite or repentant heart.
In Luke chapter twelve we find one parable of Christ about the haughty spirit of a rich man who said: “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” (Luke 12:19) Our Lord Jesus Christ did not teach that the accumulation of wealth is improper but rather the greed and love for money that which is a sin. From the above-quoted verse, Christ added that the rich man (in the parable) was a fool as he couldn’t stop death notwithstanding his corn-for-the-soul provisions. (v. 20) The lesson here is that the best pathway to follow when coming to God is the road of humility and “a broken spirit and a contrite heart.”
The Broken Spirit Principle When Applied to Individual Relationships
The Bible principle on humility when approaching God is also a compelling character in the arena of human relationship. A humble woman, for example, is more likely to be loved by her husband and children and thus establish a stable family. In contrast, the beautiful but arrogant one may always qualify to grow the seed of divorce.
“Now the man Moses,” reads Numbers 12:3, “was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” Humility promoted him to leadership. He was God’s spokesperson, leader, and the man for the Master’s use (cf. 2 Tim. 2:21) during his time. Taught Christ: “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:4)
God loves a broken spirit more than humility.
God loves humility, but he loves a contrite heart more. “A mind broken or crushed,” reads Barne’s Notes, “under the weight of conscious guilt. The idea is that of a burden laid on the Soul until it is crushed and subdued.” If you have a trial, your wife or husband has an affair, for example, such burden breaks your spirit. Before you tie your neck to commit suicide, listen to God, for He said that He would not despise your agony and nightmare. Observe the verse:
As mentioned earlier a contrite heart also means a repentant soul. Life is a seesaw of sadness and joy just like a sunny and rainy day. Life, crowded with surprises, is not 50 or 70 years of rejoicing. God is waiting for your call for help where you are down and sinking. It is the meaning of a broken or crushed spirit. As the apostle Peter was sinking, so he cried to Christ for help. Be broken in the spirit—and come to God by faith.
Have You Experienced a Broken Spirit While You Ignored God?
Some people don’t even try to call God on their trials or sufferings. Remorseful, Judas Iscariot did call Christ as merely an “innocent blood.” In Matthew 27:4 he said: “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” After around three years witnessing Christ’s miracles and hearing our Lord’s divine teachings, Judas thought that Jesus Christ was only an “innocent blood.” Confused, Judas committed suicide when he knew Christ could help him regain his peace and sanity. Without seeking the face of the God of the Holy Bible, no man can experience real humility and brokenness of spirit before our Creator God.
On the sermon titled, “Man’s Extremity, God’s Opportunity,” given by the famous preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon* sometime in 1880, he said that the unbelievers would soon “slide in due time” into hell, to the horrible place without any chance of salvation. Observe the following verse: “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” (Deut. 32:35 KJV)
Here is Spurgeon’s observation on those lacking humility and a broken spirit before God:
A Broken Spirit Versus Our Sinfulness
Trials, sufferings, diseases—these cannot produce that experience of a broken spirit that is pleasing to God. We quoted above Psalm 51:17 that states that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Are you suffering from something and you want it brought to God? Then, you must have a broken spirit, firstly! But how to crush that pride and arrogance in our hearts that are preventing our knees to bend in faith before God?
When I first experienced a broken spirit before God, I didn’t have one intense suffering. It took me around three years asking questions about death, the death of my father before I met God. In my search, I didn’t know God until I met (not God) but the Bible. The brokenness of spirit before our Maker, in my spiritual struggle, obeys the formula, namely, SEEK + BIBLE + GOD = BROKEN SPIRIT.
I wrote somewhere that it was Hebrews 9:27, my first shot of scriptures, which led me to trust that the Holy Bible is God’s Word. It says: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” From it, I learned that death is an APPOINTMENT. Secondly, it would occur only ONCE, and finally, that there would be JUDGMENT. The puzzle about my father’s demise was completely solved in my heart as his death was beyond anyone’s control as it was a divine schedule. Most important of all is the JUDGMENT, which means that my father was not dead after all spiritually since he would have to face the judgment. This truth led me to trust the Holy Bible. I met another verse from Romans 6:23 that says “the wages [results] of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It was when I heard one sermon about my sin, judgment and salvation and eternal life that I met (this time not just God’s Word) Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, by faith. The Word of God was powerful for me. I knew I was a sinner awaiting judgment. Fearful, I felt broken in spirit—I needed Christ to forgive and save me!
No Real Faith in Christ Without Having a Broken Spirit Before God
We don’t need a seminary training to experience a broken spirit that God loves to see. What I learned was the hunger for the truth about death that led me to the Bible, then to faith in Jesus Christ. Fake Christians filled our churches today. What they lack is the hunger for the truth about sin, death, salvation, eternal life, and Jesus Christ. By spiritual hunger, we mean like being drowned and struggling to breathe. Hunger for air to live is tantamount to hungering for Christ, who is the Truth, to be forgiven and live forever in heaven.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. We could not please God by sacrificing our precious time for the Lord’s work unless we experienced real brokenness of spirit. I heard one preacher who introduced his sermon by saying that he wasted months of preparation for his talk. The preaching, unfortunately, did not touch our hearts, lacking God’s witness. The preacher just lacked the contriteness of heart. God couldn’t work with hubris.
A Broken Spirit Takes Place with the Conviction of the Awesomeness of Our God
John 15:5 is one verse that heightens my Christianity. It says that “APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING.” I couldn’t remember driving a car without saying a prayer in my entire life. Reflecting on this claim of Christ, I just have one article of religion, and that is the Lordship and deity of Jesus Christ. He owns me. I worship Him. I love Him. He is my Life. I can’t do anything without Him. Oh, how awesome is our Lord, the “King of kings and the Lord of lords.” (1 Tim. 6:15) And this doctrine causes me real brokenness of heart and spirit inside of me—the birth of Christ-confidence and the death of self-trust in my soul.