A right spiritual attitude is key to our relationship with God, our intimacy with Him, and our willingness to learn and be transformed into Christ’s image.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
The expression ‘broken heart’ is used glibly in any number of ways in our society. It’s almost a cliché, something we throw out there as an expression of human emotion, usually with a focus on our own suffering. It’s very self-focused, yet the biblical implication is a spiritual attitude rather than a physical or emotional response. Today’s verse refers to our relationship with God, and how we respond to our growing knowledge of Him. reflects our heart and spirit.
Our spiritual attitude is shaped by our relationship with God.
It’s utterly impossible to have relationship with God and not be changed from the inside out. Intimacy with Him impacts our attitudes. This makes perfect sense when we consider the truth that our Christian walk is one of transforming us into the image of Christ. The deeper our intimacy, the more we will know Him. The more we know Him, the more we love Him. The more we love Him, the more we will obey Him. This is the process of transformation. As we assume more and more of the nature of Jesus, so our attitudes will align themselves with Him.
Obviously, then, if our relationship with God is distant or irregular, our transformation will be slowed. Our spiritual attitudes will remain relatively unchanged – our hearts will be untouched and our spirits will remain unregenerated. These two things form the basis of our spiritual attitude, but they also govern our interaction with God.
We need to retain the spiritual attitude we had at salvation.
If we think back to when we were saved, two things stand out. The first was that our heart was broken – not according to the ways of the world but with a deep spiritual realisation that our sin was what necessitated Christ going to the cross. In that moment, we experienced the same kind of heart response that God has when He sees our rejection and disobedience. We saw the utter anguish of Christ on the cross, and the spiritual attitude of absolute, perfect obedience He revealed for our sake. A broken heart is a spiritual response to the terrible cost He had to pay on our behalf.
The second aspect is our spirits were contrite – we came face to face with our sin and its implications and saw ourselves as we really are. It’s not the superficial ‘I’m sorry’ that suffices in the world. This is a much deeper spiritual anguish that cuts away all pretence and brings us to our knees. It’s a spiritual attitude of humility and surrender and uncluttered honesty. Our spirits reflect the burden of sin that Jesus carried for us on the cross.
Our relationship with God is determined by our spiritual attitude.
It’s important to remember that God never forces Himself on us. He stands at the door and knocks. It’s up to us whether we invite Him in or not and we cannot blame God if our relationship with Him is hindered by our spiritual attitude. We can never, in this world, reach complete relationship with God. Ours is a journey of growth. At any point along the way, the depth and quality of our intimacy will be determined by our spiritual attitude and our knowledge of God.
Knowledge of God, spiritual attitude, and relationship with God cannot be separated. They work together, each building and initiating the other. A broken heart and contrite spirit were ours at the point of salvation, but time, sin, and self diminish this because our knowledge of God is limited. If we retain the right spiritual attitude, it will encourage us to seek relationship with and knowledge of God. If, however, our attitude reverts or remains unchanged, there is no impetus to know Him better, or to deepen our intimacy with Him.
Our spiritual attitude must transform over time.
It never remains static. In fact, God intends for it to continue to grow and be transformed into the likeness of Christ. What this means is that our spiritual attitude must shift in order to experience a deeper relationship with God through a deeper knowledge of Him. In other words, the relationship we have with Him and knowledge we have of Him depend on having a broken heart and a contrite spirit – a spiritual attitude of humility, surrender and obedience. It is this that moves us into deeper and more lasting growth and transformation.
A broken heart continually cries out to God. It holds onto Him because it knows He is the source of comfort and transformation. It has a hunger and thirst that cannot be satisfied, and it willingly opens itself to God’s presence and power. A broken heart is an honest heart. If anything, brokenness before God should remain with us, even in our joy, thanksgiving and praise. A contrite spirit is open to correction and teaching. It listens, hears, and obeys. It doesn’t shrink from the truth or look for excuses. As we grow, our spiritual attitude must grow with our deepening need and love for God.
Our spiritual attitude determines God’s response.
We know that God’s love is absolute, perfect, all-encompassing and complete. It has no end and no limit, and it’s all available to us at any time. We know that His mercy, grace, and power are eternal. But the degree to which we receive is determined by our spiritual attitude. Today’s verse reminds us that God desires to presence Himself with us and to save us – continue His work of salvation in us. The degree of God’s presence with us depends on our spiritual attitude.
If we persist in holding onto old attitudes, we fill the space that God should occupy. He cannot be near us because we won’t let Him. We have lost sight of the awesome truth that broke our hearts for salvation and we harden our hearts against honest contrition. When we bring these two things into play – when we open our hearts and spirits to Him, He joyfully comes alongside and releases what we need.
Precious Father, we know that our spiritual attitude is not all it should be. We confess that we avoid a place of brokenness and contrition. Forgive us for holding back or resisting Your work of transformation. Remind us daily of the cross, and grant us the grace to come in true humility and repentance.