Many years ago, Pastor J. C. Philpot wrote: “There is much presumption, pride, hypocrisy, deceit, delusion, formality, superstition and self-righteousness to be purged out of the heart of God’s child…” Philpot was kind. That’s the beginning of the purging our hearts desperately need. We are broken people.
What does that mean for us on a daily basis? Does it mean strolling through life with our heads hung low? Do we carry ourselves in such a way that others will notice our self-deprecating humility? I don’t think so. “True brokenness,” says Nancy Leigh DeMoss, “is a lifestyle—a moment-by-moment lifestyle of agreeing with God about the true condition of my heart and life—not as everyone thinks it is but as he knows it is.” I like that. We can be confident in our gifts and abilities, but let’s seek to express more confidence in the One who gives us those gifts and abilities. We can be sure, but let’s strive to express more certainty about who God is and what He can do through us or even apart from us.
I don’t know about you, but I can tell within a brief period of time if I’m around someone who’s aware of his or her brokenness. This person has a messy story to tell even if she hasn’t spoken a word about it. He has a presence that communicates a sense of desperation before the Father. Further, apart from his intervening work in their lives throughout the day, these individuals know they’re nothing. Even their best efforts account for nothing.
Here’s a case in point. Years ago, I attended a popular conference with many of the well-known pastors and other leaders from around the country. In an attempt to meet a couple of my favorite authors, I sat outside the press room where these individuals were being interviewed. Wow, what an experience that was! Most had come to believe they were a pretty big deal. Admittedly, people like me probably contribute to this by waiting to steal a few moments with them after an interview. There were a couple folks, however, who were so down to earth—almost dumbfounded they had even received an invitation to speak at conference of that nature. That’s a glimpse of brokenness.
Praise God that he has redeemed us through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-25, Ephesians 1:7-8, Colossians 1:13-14)! Let’s not forget though that we’re not home yet. “Redeemed humanity,” writes James Sire, “is humanity on the way to restoration of the defaced image of God, in other words, substantial healing in every area–personality, self-transcendence, intelligence, morality, social capacity, and creativity. Glorified humanity is humanity totally healed and at peace with God, and individuals at peace with others and themselves” (The Universe Next Door, 2009, p. 41).
In an age in which we clamor over the so-called “rock star” pastors and other leaders today who write lots of books, give lots of talks, lead lots of people and who often come to believe they are more than they really are, let’s not forget what God truly desires:
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 57:17).
So, as you’re around others, would they be able to detect your brokenness? That’s a question I continue to think about in my own journey. It’s a question to which I often don’t like the answer.