why does God want his followers to be contrite?
In 1897, Rudyard Kipling wrote the poem, God of our Fathers and it summed up, for me personally, what it means to have a contrite heart and spirit:
The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart;
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart:
The poem speaks to the importance of having not just a humbled heart but a contrite one. A contrite spirit requires repentance. It requires owning up to our failures and taking ownership of our part in all of it. It’s about being completely open and honest with ourselves, and willing to change our wrong behaviors for the better. Having a contrite spirit isn’t just about accepting failure, but also embracing it because it means we are taking steps in the right direction. We can learn from our mistakes and ultimately become better people. So, what does God say about it?
Exploring the Biblical Context of a Contrite Spirit
I love looking to scripture to see what God says about this very topic. Pslam 51:17, David talks about having this broken and contrite spirit. What I take from this scripture is that the sacrifices made were not enough. God wants our whole heart.
He wants us to come before Him with a clean heart and a humbled and contrite spirit, so that He may heal our brokenness. It’s about surrendering fully to His will and seeking His guidance and direction in all things.
In Isaiah 57:15, we learn that God wants our hearts to be contrite. He is looking for sincere repentance and a desire to change. It’s an obedience that is long-lasting.
Merriam-Webster defines contrite as, “feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for improper or objectionable behavior, actions, etc.” A contrite spirit is so much more than just feeling sorry for our wrongs. It’s about actively striving to change, and being open and honest with ourselves and God about our mistakes.
In Matthew 11:29, Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
This brings me back to the idea of humbly accepting a contrite spirit. We must be willing to humble ourselves and accept that we have done wrong and accept God’s grace in order to find true rest for our souls. It isn’t always easy, but it is necessary if we want to draw closer to God and grow deeper in our faith. It is only when we are humble before Him and willing to admit our wrongs that He can work in us and make us more like Him.
The Benefits of Having a Contrite Heart
Having a contrite heart and spirit is essential for us to draw nearer to God. It allows us to open up and be honest with ourselves, our struggles, and our wrongdoings. It frees us from the burden of shame and guilt that can sometimes weigh heavy on our hearts. We must remember, too, that we are all human and that we make mistakes. So, it is important to seek forgiveness for those mistakes and look to God for His grace and mercy.
Having a broken and contrite heart also opens us up to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. He can use our brokenness and contrition as an opportunity to refine us and draw us closer to Him.
God is ready and willing to forgive our wrongs if we come before Him with a humble and contrite spirit. We just have to be willing to take the first steps toward true repentance and seek out His grace and mercy. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.
I personally think that having a contrite heart is freeing. I think about 2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
This verse speaks to us of the beauty and power of repentance. It is through our contrite and broken spirit that we can find true healing, growth, and transformation. We must remember to come before God with a humble and broken heart, ready for Him to work in us for His glory. It’s not about shame but about Godly sorrow. It’s meant to bring us peace with the Father. This is when we cease to do things the way we think they should be done and go all in on what God says. This is when we come to a place of surrender and receive the peace that comes with it.
Examples from Scripture of the Workings of a Contrite Spirit
I honestly think the most important example is Jesus Christ’s suffering, Himself. He humbled Himself and took on human form so that we could be reconciled to the Father. He willingly suffered for us and died a criminal’s death so that we could have an eternity with Him. Jesus was completely dependent upon the Father. It was the Father’s will, not Jesus’. He was ready to accept whatever Heavenly Father had asked of Him.
Another example is found in King David in 2 Samuel 12:13-14. Here we see his contrite spirit and his willingness to accept God’s punishment for his wrongdoings. In this passage, he says, “I have sinned against the Lord.” This is an excellent example of a contrite spirit and repentance. It’s a willingness to see our mistakes and sin and then reconcile them with the Lord.
Practical Steps Towards Having a Contrite Heart
Having a contrite heart is not something that happens overnight. It takes time and effort. Here are some practical steps you can take to foster a humble and contrite spirit in yourself:
– Pray for God’s help in developing a contrite heart. Ask Him to open your eyes to the mistakes you have made, so that you can be honest with Him and yourself.
– Spend time in prayer, meditating on God’s word, and reflecting on your life.
– Accept responsibility for the sins and wrongs you have done and seek forgiveness both from others and from God.
– Make a conscious effort to practice self-reflection and humility.
– Seek out the guidance of a godly mentor, who can offer spiritual insight and encouragement.
– Remember that God is always ready to forgive us our wrongdoings if we come before Him with a humble and contrite spirit.
Having a contrite and repentant heart is an important part of our faith journey. It is essential for us to seek out God’s mercy and grace so that we can start anew and walk closer with Him. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it in the end. So let us humble ourselves before the Lord and trust in His infinite love and forgiveness. May we all experience the peace that comes from a contrite spirit!