Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018

…you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51: 16-17

What is the historical significance of these passages? According to the Lutheran Study Bible, Psalm 51 is a prayer for cleansing and pardon. In 2 Samuel: 11, we learn that King David had Uriah killed to cover his sin of committing adultery with his wife Bathsheba. It follows that Psalm 51 was written by King David and was his cry to God for forgiveness.

What is a broken and contrite heart and what is the message for us today? I have thought about this and have several beliefs and opinions for us to ponder. If we have a contrite heart, we will feel truly guilty for our sins and seek humble repentance. We will not rationalize, explain, excuse, defend or justify sin. We have an obligation to take responsibility for our actions and not seek to blame our failures on other people or God. A self-righteous spirit will not receive God’s forgiveness. And, finally, the person with the contrite heart understands that he or she deserves nothing and is at the mercy of God.

God wants us to acknowledge our sins and repent. Many people believe that if they give more, busy themselves in religious activities and maybe pray more, that God will accept these actions in lieu of true repentance. It is clearly stated in these passages that God doesn’t want our sacrifices or burnt offerings; he wants us to have a humble spirit and seek forgiveness by repenting our sins.

Prayer: Dear God, create in us a clean heart and free us from bondage by helping us to acknowledge and repent our sins with a humble spirit. Amen.

Bernie Gettel

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