Humble and Contrite in Spirit

Isaiah 66:2b,5 ESV

“But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.”

“Hear the word of the Lord,
you who tremble at his word:
‘Your brothers who hate you
and cast you out for my name’s sake
have said, “Let the Lord be glorified,
that we may see your joy”;
but it is they who shall be put to shame.’”

Humble and Contrite

When the Scriptures speak of humility and contriteness of spirit and trembling at the word of the Lord, what kind of image does that bring up in your mind? Would you say that describes you? If not, why not? Would you say that describes the general populace of your church gatherings or is it what is being impressed upon you from your pulpits? It should be!

Do you regard this as just Old Testament teaching which is for old fuddy-duddies whom you may (or may not) regard as being hung up on legalism? Or are you of the belief that these are godly qualities which are repeated for us in the New Testament which are to be applied to our lives today? I believe these qualities to be totally relevant to our lives as Christians today.

How does the Bible describe being humble (or humility)? Well, humility is the opposite of exalting oneself. It is a willingness to take a lower position, like Jesus humbled himself by coming to the earth and taking on human flesh and being willing to suffer as we suffer and to be tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, and then to give himself up for us on that cross to die for our sins, although he was perfectly sinless, and he is God.

And it is to become like children in our faith, i.e. to have child-like faith which trusts fully in the Lord Jesus and in the teachings of his word and which believes God and desires to obey him. If we have such faith we are not going to question God or his instructions to us, but we will do what he says. Now it is okay to question people’s interpretations of Scripture to make certain we are following the truth and not the lies, but then we obey God.

And it is to have a humble spirit like Mary, the mother of Jesus, who believed the angel, which meant she believed God and his word, and she accepted what God had planned for her life, and she did not doubt. She only asked how it was to come about. And beyond that she totally trusted in the Lord, knowing full well that by accepting this assignment from God that it might mean her death, and certainly losing her husband to be, and being despised and rejected and accused falsely of immoral conduct.

[Jas 4:6,10; Matt 18:4; Matt 21:5; Luke 1:48; 2 Co 10:1; Php 2:8; etc.]

And what does it mean to be contrite? It means to be broken and to be crushed in spirit. It is in opposition to being proud, haughty, and self-righteous. So, it appears to overlap humility, but it is often used in the context of repentance, i.e. being broken and crushed in spirit over our sins with true humility and sorrow before God and with a genuine desire to turn away from our lives of walking in sin to now following Jesus in obedience.

And those who tremble at the word of the Lord are those who have the fear of God within them. They are those who give honor to God and to his word, who take God and the Scriptures seriously and who choose to obey the word of the Lord over just living to the flesh. They believe God, and they believe what he said, and they take it to heart, and they do what God says. And they believe his promises, and they take his warnings seriously, too.

Encouragement to the Rejected

When we are humble and contrite, and when we walk in the fear of God, and we take God and his word seriously, and we do what he says, in practice, we are going to be outcasts, even within many of the gatherings of what is called “church.” For, at least here in America, such godly qualities are not regularly being taught or practiced. They are outdated, in many cases.

So, you will likely be regarded as odd or as outdated and antiquated, or you may be accused falsely of being hyper-religious or of being self-righteous and perhaps legalistic and judgmental, too, all because you take God and his word to heart and you make the word of God your practice. And it is likely that you will also be told that you don’t fit in their “church,” and so they will encourage you to go somewhere else where you will be a better fit.

And this is because the large majority of what is called “church” today here in America has swung the pendulum now the way of the world and so they have conformed the gospel and the gatherings of “the church” to the ways of the world and to worldly methods and to marketing schemes. And so taking God and his word seriously and walking in obedience to the Lord are not being taught much at all, and sometimes they are actually taught against.

And just like Paul felt he was serving God by persecuting Christians, some of these church leaders may feel as though they are doing the right thing by rejecting you, by casting you aside, by getting rid of you, by asking you to leave, or by literally kicking you out of their “churches.” They may feel as though they are somehow “saving” their “church” by getting rid of you because you will not conform to the “business model” church of today.

And not that this is encouraging that they will be put to shame, for our attitude should never be of wanting to get even with them or of hoping that God will get even with them, but perhaps if they are put to shame they will then look up to God and then they will humble themselves and be contrite in spirit and will surrender their lives to the Lord and walk in the fear of God. And so we can take encouragement that they might one day repent.

[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]

Rejoice in the Lord

By Ron Hamilton

God never moves without purpose or plan
When trying His servant and molding a man.
Give thanks to the LORD though your testing seems long;
In darkness He giveth a song.

Now I can see testing comes from above;
God strengthens His children and purges in love.
My Father knows best, and I trust in His care;
Through purging more fruit I will bear.

O Rejoice in the LORD
He makes no mistake,
He knoweth the end of each path that I take,
For when I am tried and purified,
I shall come forth as gold.

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