Walk worthy with a Contrite Heart

Sandy Hook first trip 2Colossians 1:10 says that Trailmen ought to walk worthy to please Him (God) in all respects.  That’s a pretty tall order.  Tonight we want to take a look at one way that the Bible tells us we can please Him.

When we mess up and make bad choices, we can hurt other people’s feelings, we can get in trouble with our teacher or parents, and sometimes our choices get us into even deeper trouble as adults – car crashes lead to paying money to fix damages, or our choices could make our boss fire us from our job if it’s a really serious issue.  Sometimes people get sued in court and others go on trial and can be sent to jail as punishment.

When we make bad choices, we need to take responsibility for what we actually did or failed to do (to prevent a bad outcome).  It’s also important to know when and how to apologize when we mess up.

Recently a news journalist got confused about some of his past experiences and told a story that was inaccurate.  The story made the journalist sound very important for having survived a nearly disastrous situation in a war zone.  Unfortunately, what he reported didn’t really happen that way.  When he was confronted about this he had to make a choice.  He could try to explain it away (make excuses) for his actions, or he could “own up” or take responsibility for the misunderstanding in very clear terms and apologize to his audience.  You see, a journalist needs to get their reporting very precise because we trust them to tell the truth, accurately and consistently.  When a journalist’s credibility is in question it is a very serious thing since we have to wonder if there have been other “fish stories” told in the past that we simply didn’t recognize as inaccurate.

I’m not trying to mean towards this individual at all, but we hold other professions to much stricter standards when it comes to the truth – lawyers have strict ethical codes to follow, surgeons, bus drivers, and airplane pilots should never drink alcohol before doing their jobs because their patients or passengers trust them to do their work safely and without impairment.  For either a surgeon or driver/pilot to behave less than professionally one time risks serious consequences for the people in their care.  If surgeons or driver/pilots are caught breaking this type of rule, they can lose their license and lose their jobs immediately.

A news reporter can influence many people by telling a story one way or the other.  Trust is a delicate thing that is easily abused if the reporter gets his or her facts mixed up.

adjusted trail

The Bible has a lot to say about trust and breaking rules, and it’s one of the core themes throughout history – from Adam and Eve choosing to break the only rule God gave them (and trusted them to obey) to each time someone gets in trouble today.

When we break one of God’s rules, we call it sin.  We can also sin when we know we ought to do something that God expects us to do and we purposely choose to avoid doing it.

Here’s the Bad News:

  • Romans 3:23 NKJV – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  • Romans 3:10 NKJV – As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;
  • Romans 6:23 NKJV – For the wages of sin [is] death, but the gift of God [is] eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here’s the Good News:

  • Romans 5:8 NKJV – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • Romans 10:9-10 NKJV – that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation
  • Romans10:13 NKJV – For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
  • 1 John 1:9 NKJV – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

CharacterSo the key here is that when we make a choice to disobey, we need to confess – acknowledge that we understand that it was, indeed, wrong, and that we agree we ought to be punished.  The good news is that when we do that honestly, we will be forgiven.

Walking worthy may begin with confessing our sins, but the Bible tells us how to keep growing and perfecting our walk.  Just like anything we do – practice and learning helps us improve.

The Bible tells us plainly:

  • Isaiah 66:2 “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”
  • Psalm 51:17, David writes, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Very simply put, contrition is a word to describe our attitude and feeling after our actions have hurt someone else’s feelings – a contrite person feels remorse or regret that the event occurred.

A bible reference site (http://www.gotquestions.org/contrite-contrition.html) offers this explanation:

The Hebrew and Greek words often translated as “contrite” actually mean “crushed, crippled, or broken.” When contrite modifies [the word] heart, we get the picture of a conscience that is crushed by the weight of its own guilt. When a human spirit stops justifying its wrong choices, awakens to the depth of its depravity, and humbly accepts God’s righteous condemnation of sin, contrition is present. A contrite heart offers no excuses and shifts no blame. It fully agrees with God about how evil it is. A contrite heart throws itself upon the mercy of God, knowing that it deserves nothing but righteous wrath (Isaiah 6:5; Psalm 41:4).

Think about how you feel when you were given very clear instructions to not touch a fragile thing, but you did anyway and it was broken forever?  Not only did you disobey, but you disappointed the person who trusted you to obey. Would that make you feel really bad?

Imagine the reaction of person came and found the broken remains of their possession on the floor.

How would you expect them to behave if:

  1. Sparks flyYou denied having touched it and lied about how it got broken (two wrongs don’t make a right – never lie about your responsibility)
  2. You shrugged your shoulders and said “it was going to break sooner or later considering how delicate it was – don’t be angry with me” (making excuses is usually irritating to the person who is hurt by your actions)
  3. You immediately apologize and offer to try to help them find a replacement. (The person will be disappointed and perhaps very angry, but will recognize that you’re taking responsibility for your actions.)

At issue is your sincerity, honesty, genuineness at apologizing.  Excuses are not an apology, and an apology won’t remove the hurt person’s anger (right away), but it’s important to be real about your situation.

Consider Luke 18:10-14

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

One man pretended or acted like he was a good man who deserved God’s forgiveness because of the good things he had done.  One man said to God, “I know I’m wrong and while I don’t really deserve to be forgiven, would you please forgive me?”

IMGP7151Consider Matthew 5:4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”

The “mourning” here is a grief over one’s own sin. The mercy and forgiveness of God comfort those who see their sin the way He sees it. (from gotquestions.org)

A contrite person also works to restore their friendship following that disruption of their normal relationship because they know they were the cause and they need to be humble.  God tells us that not only is He pleased with contrition, but He will revive us when we are feeling crushed over our guilt:

Isaiah 57:15 “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite”

When you mess up, don’t try to hide it and don’t make excuses.  Confront those who you’ve disappointed with a humble attitude.  Explain what happened honestly and seek their forgiveness.  Understand that when we mess up, it’s appropriate to feel “down in the dumps” initially, but then we can move on and start to patch things up.  I’m not recommending that we carry around our guilt in backpacks everywhere we go, but we ought not become jaded or cavalier about the seriousness of sin, either.

Walk Worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God – Col. 1:10

Scouts Summer Fall 2010 319

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