We are all familiar with things being broken. Sometimes we drop things and they break. Sometimes things break because of wear and tear. Other times, what breaks are not physical things, but things such as relationships, health, and employment. Broken things are a part of everyone’s life.
Some broken things can be repaired, others cannot. I dropped a beautiful glass vase one time and there was no way it could be repaired! I doubt if I even found all the pieces!
We generally believe that things not broken are good, useful, and enjoyable. In the physical world, that is generally true. We spend lots of money sometimes to bring things back to normal, to a place of being useful to us. Think of the money we spend on cars and various household items.
Sometimes we think that the things we own, such as our own abilities and talents define our lives and thus we give so much attention to these things. We desperately want to be well thought of! In a way they do define one’s life, but a life that is basically earth bound.
Now, let’s shift to a different thought about broken things. I am thinking of the immaterial aspects of our lives, the emotional, spiritual makeup of our lives, the things that constitute our behavior, the things that give definition as to who we really are and why we do what we do. I am thinking of things that really do not serve us well until they are broken! If we are believers, they are things that actually mar and distort our Christian witness, things that give a false impression as to who Jesus is in our lives. Actually, to be fruitful in our Christian lives, there must be death before life. Remember the words of Jesus,
‘“Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit’” (Jn. 12:24).
What, then, are some things in the life of the believer that need to be broken before they are really useful? There are many things, but we will focus on the following especially:
Self confidence. Generally speaking, self confidence is a good thing. It helps us to face challenges without being so fearful of loss or defeat. We all need self confidence to survive in a world of great competition. However, the self confidence I am referring to is self confidence that ignores God in the living out of our Christian lives. It is characteristic of a believer who feels he does not need to consult the truth of the Bible regarding a given decision nor does he need to spend much time in prayer for God’s leading and will.
To be broken regarding self confidence is to come to the place of not trusting self for the wisdom and power to live the Christian life.
Note the following verses from the book of Proverbs:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7).
“For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord...Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices” (Prov. 1:29, 31).
“When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee” (Prov. 2:10-11).
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord and depart from evil” (Prov. 3:5-7).
The problem of self-confidence that is of self is that it gets in the way of God’s leading, of dependence upon Him. It causes us to choose our own way and will more than the way and will of God. It is the confidence that prompted Saul to intervene in the office of priest of which he was forbidden to. The consequence was forthcoming and severe. It was the kind of self confidence that led Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit regarding the sale of property and holding part of it back for themselves. Again, the judgment of God was swift and final.
The breaking of our sinful self confidence is necessary to the working of God in our lives. He must be the preeminent One in all we are and do. Anything short of that will hinder the working and purpose of the will of God in our lives. Thus, genuinely and honestly seeking God in prayer and a faithful study of the Word of God will replace our own self will and enable us to serve God in truth.
Pride. Pride is one of the greatest hindrances to the living of the Christian life. Pride is the matter of thinking too highly of ourselves and our accomplishments. It is taking credit for self rather than giving God the credit from whom all good things flow. Pride soils our relationship with God and others as well.
Pride is one of the great ills of the Christian life of which we are amply warned of. The Apostle John warned, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit,
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I Jn. 2:16).
To know that pride is not of the Father, but is of the world should be an adequate warning to any Spirit filled believer. The problem is, we are not always careful to walk in the Spirit as we ought and thus we begin to take credit for that which belongs to God alone.
Consider the characteristics of pride. As said above, it takes credit for that which rightly belongs to another, primarily God. It diminishes credit that rightly belongs to another. If someone else is praised for some task or ability, the prideful person will often find fault with what is done and be quick to criticize. Pride sometimes causes people to sulk when they are not similarly recognized and appreciated.
Pride often causes people to speak unwisely. Because they think they have superior knowledge, they often unwisely contend for their own opinions. There is a place for the sharing of one’s opinions about given matters, but only under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and in the spirit of Christian love. To some, this may seem like an impossible standard, but it is not to the one walking in the Spirit!
A good example of people showing unwise opinions are the friends of Job. While he was suffering immensely, his “friends” came by to “comfort” him. Because their comments were offensive to God, they were offensive to Job. They were highly opinionated about the reason for his suffering and said very hurtful things.
Similarly, pride seems to be coupled with a dominant, controlling spirit. It is a spirit that seeks to control others about them and cannot very well take correction. How true that,
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).
The result of pride is that such people are often avoided. If they are concerned about being a witness for the Lord, often their witness is more of self than of God. Yes, if one would be a true witness for God, it requires the use of words, but words that come from the indwelling presence of God in one’s life.
Is there correction for pride in the believer’s life? Yes, but it must be of God. It doesn’t work just to try to do better. It never really works! Pride can only be adequately dealt with at the cross of Jesus Christ. We must see the reality of pride in our own lives; we must see it for what it is, an offense against God and all others one deals with.
Hard heart. Of all the things that need to be broken in the believer’s life, perhaps the hard heart is the most crucial, for Solomon exhorted, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). The heart controls everything else we do, such as how we relate to God, to other people, and how we live out our Christian life. If our heart is hard, that is, not responsive to God and His word, our life will reflect that in every area of life. Our talents, along with everything else, fades in comparison to the condition of our hearts.
Many passages of the Bible speak of the problem of the hard heart. The Lord warned His people,
“Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, it is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known My ways: unto whom I sware in My wrath that they should not enter into rest” (Psa. 95:8-11).
People whose hearts are hard to God and His truth cannot enter into the rest of God. Instead of finding needed rest in Him, they will seek for it in almost anything else including wealth, popularity, position, relationships with other people, entertainment, and a multitude of other things.
Hard hearts will continue until there is a demonstrated need for God, His truth, and His will. Hard hearts are often broken when we see the failures of self, when we begin to see our sin for what it is, an offence against a holy God. When the Holy Spirit begins to convict us for our sins, we begin to see the error of our ways, the degradation of our own hearts and ways. It is thus that David prayed,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa. 139:23-24).
I think a problem for many believers today is that they never deal with the matter of a broken heart for their sins. They kind of know something about the Bible, the plan of salvation, and even a general outline of the Bible and yet never come to see their own heart for what it is really is, cold, careless, and indifferent to a personal walk with God. They are like the church of Ephesus of whom the Lord said, “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars...Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Rev. 2:2,4). Could that possibly define many believers today, and even many local churches?
The problem is, many are satisfied with such a relationship to God. It gives them a feeling of being right with God and doing something worthwhile!! The fact is, such a relationship is neither a real blessing to the believer, nor do I think it is acceptable to God! Certainly it is not much of a witness to the reality and power of God in one’s life.
Now, notice the Lord’s exhortation to the church at Ephesus, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Rev. 2:5). I believe that trying to do the Lord’s work without a broken heart for our own sins is a work of futility. The hard heart is a hindrance to the work of the Spirit. A hard heart and the work of the Spirit are not synonymous! They cannot travel together. It is either one or the other.
The first priority of one who has a hard heart is to acknowledge his need and come to the Lord for forgiveness. It is so easy to dress up our hard heart and make it to seem so attractive! Good works, talent, self sacrifice and hard work are no replacement for a hard heart. The forgiveness of God is essential if one is to do a work in God’s name.
Ambition. Ambition is, generally speaking, a good thing. Note the following truths from God’s Word. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard. when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep; So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man” (Prov. 6:6-11).
The problem is, ambition can be a problem to the believer! What I am referring to here is the ambition that comes from one’s own ideas; really, it is ambition that comes from the old nature of self. In other words, it is selfish ambition because it does not take God into account. If for example, a young pastor desires to become the pastor of a large, thriving church, he may be missing the mark. His first desire, if he is indeed a man of God, is to do and be what God leads him to do and be! When he knows and obeys the Word and will of God, he will indeed be blessed of God and his ministry will redound to the glory of God. However, if he persists in following his own selfish desires, his ministry will reflect his own self-interest rather than God’s, no matter what “successes” will follow. For the believer, there really is no success apart from the pursuing of the will, Word, and heart of God!
This is often a difficulty for many Christians because we are so prone to want to accomplish something in our own wisdom and power. We want to be well thought of, to be accepted by others for what we are and do. Certainly there is a place for the appreciation of others, but to seek such appreciation for ourselves often leads to great unhappiness. Again, whatever is of self in place of God is wood, hay, and stubble. See I Cor. 3:11-15.
Now, how does one come to the place of brokenness before God? It is not just a matter of our knowing the facts of brokenness; one can know the facts of a matter without knowing the truth of a matter.
It is rather a work of God, a revelation by the Holy Spirit whereby we begin to see ourselves for what we really are apart from the working of God in our lives. Yes, if we are really saved, we have the Holy Spirit in our lives, but He can be quenched, that is, ignored, relegated to an unimportant place. Thus Paul wrote, “Quench not the Spirit” (I Thess. 5:19).
It is to acknowledge what Paul said as he dealt with the problems of the old nature,
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom. 7:18).
A person who begins to see the spiritual failures of his life begins to see the emptiness of his life apart from the fullness of God.
It is to see the need for and the sufficiency of God for all things needed in my life. It is to turn from the desires and cravings of the self life to the glorious provision of God.
It is a reckoning that we have been crucified together with Christ, a daily acknowledging of that followed by a daily yielding of our lives to the One who Himself is our life. As Paul said, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:11). A study of Romans 6-8 is crucial to the understanding of the place of brokenness in the Christian life.
Writing on the subject of brokenness is like trying to explain the heavens above. There is so much more than we can even begin to comprehend. Still, I believe there is an understanding and reality God can give if only we seek Him for the truth.
The really good news is that when we come to the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of our hard hearts, the fullness and joy of the Lord is restored to us and our ministry is one of genuine fruitfulness! Remember the words of Jesus,
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine: no more can ye except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (Jn. 15:4-5).
We were saddened to learn of the passing of a high school classmate of mine, Lloyd Riek. He died on January 6th as a result of covid-19. He was a brother of Lucille Lund of Woodville and Dorothy Johnson of Texas. We extend our sincere sympathy to his wife, Betty, and all of the family.
Recently we have viewed some very significant videos by Ken Ham. Especially significant for today is one called, “Six Days-The Age of the Earth and the Decline of the Church.”
If you would like to add anyone to the mailing list for The Sonshine, please give me their names and addresses. There is no charge. Our desire is to share the truth of the Gospel with as many people as possible. People need to be prepared to meet the Lord whether the Lord comes for them personally or by means of the rapture of the church. I may be contacted at 155 Willow Circle, Baldwin, WI 54002; 715-688-6220; firstname.lastname@example.org.