Updated: Jul 16, 2022
A humble and repentant heart. Here are two qualities that, I believe, are of the greatest blessings one could pray for themselves or others.
Having lived for nearly 20 years in Europe, we have had the privilege of seeing so many structures built with stone that have remained in tact throughout the years. When in seminary, we had the awesome opportunity of taking an educational tour to Greece (as my Greek husband would say, “To the motherland!”) and saw foundational stones that were laid thousands of years ago but yet have stood the test of time. (The unfortunate part of this story is that as a 20-something yr old, I began to find it hard to imagine an entire structure looming on the horizon after just viewing two stones put together. But let’s just put this down to my youth … or lack of imagination!)
Over these past weeks, John has been preaching on the Sermon on the Mount and is now in the throes of the topic of Prayer. His sermons have turned my thoughts to the various prayers in the Bible and specifically David’s confessional prayer in Psalm 51. One day I was reading Psalm 51 in the New English Translation (NET) and came across 51:17 with a new and fresh understanding of what David was praying to the Lord.
"The sacrifice God desires is a humble spirit—
O God, a humble and repentant heart you will not reject.”
I was struck by the adjectives describing the type of heart that pleases the Lord - Humble and Repentant.
If I have a humble and a repentant heart, then when the Lord leads I will hear and follow after His voice.
And if, I have a humble and a repentant heart then as much as it depends on me, I will be at peace with all men.
A humble and repentant heart encourages us to hear the Lord, be conscious of our sins, easily brought to repentance and then wholeheartedly … with joy… following after His leading.
A humble and repentant heart stimulates us to be desirous of living a life of putting others first, confessing our failings before others and aggressively pursuing to make things right with those around us … as much as it depends on us.
God doesn’t desire from us qualities that man defines as success. The ability to climb the proverbial ladder in this world in order to show our strengths to those around us is not what the Lord is looking for or affirms. Influence, Power, Self-preservation, Wealth - these are all qualities that we grow up striving for, attending seminars, listening to TED Talks and podcasts to somehow adequately achieve.
However, there was a man that God used as an example to vividly show us what He desires from our lives - metaphorically like "foundation stones for life" that will stand the test of time. Taken from the smelly sheep pens on the semi-arid hills of Bethlehem and hand-picked by God to lead His chosen people through victory after victory, King David chose to sin. And after being confronted with his sin, he then communicates a prayer to His Merciful Father in heaven which stands as a pattern to mankind of a prayer that transcends all requests made by man. His prayer was a prayer given by a man who:
saw the righteousness of His heavenly Father,
compared this righteousness to the destitute condition of his own heart
and pled to His merciful Father to forgive him.
And God did … in full measure.
A humble and repentant heart. Here are two qualities that, I believe, are of the greatest blessings one could pray for themselves or others. To pray that God would grant us a humble and repentant heart allows us to remain at peace with our heavenly Father who has given us so much and then, as much as it depends on us, it allows us to pursue peace with one another here on earth. All this brings into view the result: Reconciliation with God and man, which then brings all the glory back to our Father.
These are the foundation stones that build our faith. Without them, our lives will be built on our own doing and strength. God has created humanity to be a Dependent People … but in our sinfulness we spend our lives pushing for our independence from Him. May we relax in His hands, stop our striving and pray that He would give to us these foundational qualities that will stand the test of time … A humble and repentant heart.
(Our 20-something selves taking in the lands of Alexander the Great's father, as well as, temple stones at Delphi.)