A Broken Heart and a Contrite Heart
We are, as it were, on the Mount of Transfiguration. It has been wonderful and glorious. We, as a people from all parts of Africa and beyond, have gathered here for three weeks to do nothing but seek the face of God. Jesus selected Peter, James and John to go to the mount with Him, in order to reveal the glory of Heaven to them and to establish their faith in Him. Similarly, God has gathered us here to reveal more of Himself to us and to establish us in the Gospel.
The experience of these three disciples was quite revealing and enthralling. It was part of God's plan to establish and make them leaders of the work after the departure of Jesus to Heaven. In like manner, God has revealed Himself to us individually and collectively during this Camp meeting, and He has empowered us with the graces and blessings of Heaven.
Now that the meeting is about winding up, we, like Peter, are saying, “Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias” (Matthew 17:4). Well, we wouldn't care much about ourselves, once Christ is with us, we are quite satisfied. This is the yearning of every one of us, but it is not practicable since duty calls everywhere.
We have had the abundance of Heaven, and by His grace, we are going back with it. If Jesus tarries and spares our lives, we shall come back here with resounding joy, victory, peace and unity, and all that will make us qualify for the Rapture.
The topic of God's message to us this morning is, “ABroken Spirit and AContrite Heart.” These are godly virtues, which are indispensable in our Christian race. It has pleased God, at this point of our departure, to remind us of the need, the importance and the urgency of having these godly virtues.
Broken things—we know our attitude to such things: we just throw them aside, they have no second-hand value, and in due course, we find these things being thrown into the garbage or dunghill. That is how we treat broken things. They may be tattered dresses, worn out shoes, home appliances or furniture.
In 1984, when I was in London in our Pastor's home, I heard somebody just saying: “aoooooo, aooooooo.” I was startled and asked the Pastor what the matter was. He said that I should not be alarmed because that was the man who went about to collect unwanted articles at a giveaway price or at no cost at all. I came out and behold, it was a junk man indeed.
While I was in Portland in 1996, I learnt that there were garage sales. What does that mean? Every Saturday morning, owners of broken and unwanted articles display them in the garage for anybody to come and pick whatever he or she wants at a low price. That same year, on our campground in Portland there were rooms assigned for broken and unwanted things, such as shoes, shirts, belts, hats, umbrellas, and so on. Those who came to Camp meeting could go to that room and pick anything they liked.
But God's consideration of broken things is at variance with the attitude of man to broken things. Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” Also in Ezekiel 33:11 God says, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?” Finally on this note, Psalm 51:16, 17. “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.”
Whatever you may be doing in the sanctuary of God: be you a preacher, a teacher, a singer, an usher or any other thing in the ministry, God says that is not His priority. Abihu and Nadab had proved this beyond any doubt. Verse 17: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” He despises our services—our preaching, our singing, our ushering work, or any other work—if there is sin, if there is unrighteousness, if there is hypocrisy, if there is self-will in our lives, or if there is a willingness to place ourselves over and above the authority of God. But a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou will not despise. Those are the two godly virtues we want to pray and have the fullness of and go home with and live by them.
What will a broken heart and a contrite spirit do for us? The lack of it in the lives of some Bible characters spelt their doom. 1 Corinthians 10:11 said that these things happen to those people and were written down in the Holy writ for our admonition, so that we who are now at the end-time do not suffer the same fate. Why? God is no respecter of persons. If we have a broken heart and a contrite spirit, they will always convict us of our sins. This address is to saints and sinners. When we err, either by mistake or by actual commission of sin,the Spirit of God will minister to our needs to the point of revealing our sins to us as individuals.
Isaiah 59:12: “For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them.” May the spirit of God minister to each and every one of us in this particular regard as we go back to our different stations. A broken heart will convict you of whatever mistake you may make either privately or in the public. Look at what David did. He cut the hem of Saul's garment. Immediately, his spirit smote him, and he felt guilty. David repented of the sin and God forgave him. At another time, he numbered the children of Israel against God's will, but because he was brokenhearted and had contrition, as soon as Joab, his captain brought the number to him, his conscience smote him and he realized he had done the wrong thing.
A broken and a contrite spirit will always lead us to repentance. Repentance is not for sinners alone; we shall continually repent until we make the portals of glory. That is why God says, “Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
We want to use David again as example. He was a man after God's own heart. He was a believer through and through. God honoured him by making him the second king over Israel. We must be careful when we become wealthy or when we reach the peak of our ambition, we must realize that there is a God who has helped us through to that peak. David overstepped his bounds. He committed adultery and murder. These two sins are very grievous in the sight of God. He committed them and kept the sins to himself, but the eyes of God which go to and fro throughout the whole length and breadth of this world saw him.
As you go back home, whatever you do, in public or in secret, God writes it against you. God sent Nathan the Prophet to tell David that he had erred. David had no alibi, he had no excuse, he just surrendered, saying, 'Yes, I am the one.' That is what God wants. The magnitude of our sins would not matter with God if we display the willingness to repent and come back to the path of rectitude. David prayed and God forgave him. That is what brokenheartedness and contrition of heart can do for us. You need not publicize it;it is a matter between you and God. If you agree with Him, He will keep your secret.
Abroken heart and a contrite spirit will make you confess your sins and renounce them. This is one area where the devil cheats a lot of Christians. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” The mercy of God cannot come our way unless we are broken-hearted and contrite in spirit. The prodigal son is an outstanding example: He got his belongings and wasted them in riotous living. Thereafter, he was in want and in abject poverty. Then he came to his senses: He became broken hearted and had contrition. He said to himself:'How many of my father's hired servants eat and have enough, and here I am dying of hunger?' He resolved: “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants” (Luke 15:18, 19).
Thank God, when you determine to go to Him, He meets you more than halfway. This prodigal son thought that what befitted him was to be one of the hired servants, but the father said, 'No, you are a precious member of my family.' He embraced him and brought him back to the family.
Broken-heartedness and contrition of heart will always enable you to make use of the Blood of Jesus Christ for your victory; physical and spiritual. When you find yourself trapped by the enemy, remember what God told the children of Israel: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The Blood of Jesus Christ does not clot. When blood clots, the vitality in it is gone. But the Blood of Jesus Christ is ever flowing and it is inexhaustible. It is enough for everyone, anytime, anywhere, and in any circumstances of life. No wonder at the tail end of Jesus' ministry, He gathered His disciples and said, “This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
What are we talking about? The possession of a broken heart and a contrite spirit will also make you ready and willing to forgive those who offend you. If you are not broken-hearted, you will look down on those who offend you, you will never wish them well. You will never be on speaking terms with them, and that is not Christianity. That is not the Gospel we preach here. When somebody offends you, you as a Christian need to sympathize with him. It is not him doing that and you have a role to play to save him from the enemy of his soul.
When somebody offends me or the ministry and comes to me, I have a habit of responding,“You are whole-heartedly forgiven.” And that is what I mean. There is no iota of hypocrisy in it. When I do that, I share of the joy of my brother or sister being forgiven. So, learn to forgive. But you cannot unless you are broken-hearted.
A broken and a contrite spirit will always make you unwilling to retaliate. Forgiveness is different from retaliation. Somebody has offended you and you are hard-hit. It pains you to the marrow and you begin to think of how to get even. That is not the spirit of Christ, neither is it the spirit of the Gospel. You need to have a superlative broken heartedness and contrition before you would not retaliate.
There are different ways of paying back. One is to return evil for evil and this is devilish. The second is to return good for good and this is human. The third one that God expects you and me to practise is to return good for evil, which is divine. Nobody can do it unless he is broken
hearted. Aclear example is our Lord Jesus Christ. When He was in agony on the Cross, He saw the people who nailed Him, He saw the soldier who pierced His side, He saw those who forced the crown of thorn on His head. What did He say? “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Sooner or later after this convention, you will find people who will offend you, who will step on your toes, who will say things that will hurt you, who will tell blatant lies against you. What should you do? You should not retaliate. If they are hungry, give them food; if they are thirsty, give them water; if they have no dress and you have some to spare, give them. We read of Balaam's ass which God used to save Balaam; but Balaam did not know, he did not realize until God opened his eyes.
An incident happened in India many years ago. Aman was riding his elephant. He was using a bow to strike the elephant to ginger it up. Suddenly the master lost grip of the bow. The elephant stopped and with its tusk he picked up the bow. What one would have expected the elephant to do was to use the bow to teach its master a lesson. But the elephant did not do that, rather it said, “Master, this is the stick, continue to beat me.”If animals could behave like that, how much more Christians?
Broken-heatedness and contrition of heart will make you ready and willing to do all “Thus saith the Lord.” Paul Apostles stood before Agrippa and said, “I am not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” As you are going, Children of God, in every circumstance that you will face, you will have to exercise implicit obedience to all “Thus saith the Lord.” Obedience delayed to God is obedience denied. Jonah is an example. We are warned in Psalm 32:9 that we should not be like horses and mules which have to be bridled before they obey. That was the experience of Jonah. He learnt his lesson in a hard way. God asked him to go to Nineveh but he went to Tarshish. God will be specific. He will tell you what to do. If you do contrary, you will have a sad experience. Jonah was thrown into the sea and was in the belly of a whale for three days and three nights. But because God does not have pleasure in the death of the wicked, God met him there. Jonah prayed and God answered. God directed the whale to go and spew him out. Be careful; don't disobey God.
A broken heart and a contrite spirit will always give you a conscience void of offence towards God and man. This was the experience of Paul the Apostle. It is our heritage also. It is what makes us to be bold. It is what makes us to get our prayers through. When our conscience is not clear, we will not be able to have a prevailing prayer; we will not have a sweet relationship with God. When you have a broken heart, you will neither owe man nor God. You will not take another person's wife, husband or property. Owe no man anything. There are some people who are regarded as stony-hearted people as far as owing debts is concerned. But we as children of God should not be like that. If we are, we will rue it. Broken-heartedness and contrition will always help us to examine our lives whetherwe are in faith or not.
There is a song in our Tabernacle hymn 310
Search me, O God,
And know my heart today:
Try me, O Saviour Know my thoughts I pray:
See if there be some wicked way in me,
Cleanse me from every sin and set me free.
Psalm 139:23,24 “Search me, O God, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” It is only broken-heartedness that can make you do that. Broken-heartedness and contrition of spirit will make you to be on the alert for the greatest event which the world is expecting—the Rapture.
Finally, a broken heart and a contrite spirit will make you escape the second death. Revelation 20:6: “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Revelation 21:8:''But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
The mission is accomplished. I can now say, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people” (Luke 2:29-31).
Rev. P. O. Akazue, Third Africa Overseer, Rev. Soyinka’s Successor