By Larry Ray Hafley
“The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psa. 34:18). “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic. 6:8). Numerous Scriptures could be produced which project similar sentiments. Are we hearing them?
Jesus exemplified and typified the “contrite spirit.” In all situations and on all occasions He was just, merciful and humble. See Him in the face of death (Jn. 11). See Him before the begging blind (Mk. 8). See Him among the diseased (Matt. 4). Everywhere and always He exhibited tenderness and kindness. But how did He act when faced with hatred, hypocrisy and meanness? “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Pet. 2:23).
Jesus was not an effeminate weakling. He was daring, determined, resourceful and resolute. He never wavered before evil. He never toyed with temptation. He exposed and reproved evil deeds and opposed and rebuked evil doers. He did so, not as a raging ruler, but as a subservient Son. He acted in the best interest of truth and righteousness. He did not react or respond to His own emotions, nor as a result of the pull and appeal of temptation, but His every acts was performed to please His Father. That is the essence of a contrite heart.
Christians must be compassionate, courteous, kind and loving (1 Pet. 3:8). They must “hate every false way,” “the deeds of the Nicolaitans,” and such like (Psa. 119:128; Rev. 2:6). They must mark the. enemies of the cross of Christ, avoid them, receive them not into their houses and have no fellowship with their unfruitful works of darkness (Rom. 16:17; 2 Jn. 9-11; Eph. 5:11). All these things must be done with gentleness, meekness, patience and fear. Nothing is to be done for fame or acclaim, nor for vengeance, but to uphold truth, promote justice, manifest mercy and work righteousness. Whether it be preaching a sermon, debating a false teacher, teaching a class, disciplining a child, reasoning with a sinner, loving one’s family, working on a job, studying in school, or relaxing at home, all things must be done to glorify God. In substance, every act is to obey our Lord, to love and serve Him (Lk. 6:46). This is what it means to have “a contrite spirit.”
“The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life” are the constant adversaries of an obedient attitude. No man is immune to the germs of envy, pride and selfish ambition. For this cause, one must guard his thoughts against the onslaughts of jealousy, bitterness and evil surmising. They are gangrene to the soul. They will cause one to react like a wounded animal, to lash out in defense of self. Protection of one’s staked out turf or territory belongs to snarling dogs and snorting stallions, but it has no place in the kingdom of God’s dear Son. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3). “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). This is the nature of “a contrite spirit.”
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 2, p. 43
January 20, 1983