So, I was asked to write an article for the church website. My initial reaction was a mixture of
surprise, joy and—just getting open here—slight insecurity. But, with that being said, here we are. I
thought I’d share a bit about my first year as a disciple, and the overall theme that has continued to present itself. Last week my amazing discipler, Alexis, called me out on my lack of character. And as I think back to that moment, my character—or lack there of—was further confirmed by my response to her discipling. In short, I cried. Since then, God has revealed many things about my character that, over the past year, I hadn’t quite come to terms with. In looking at these past challenges, one question comes to mind. Did these challenges produce in me a heart of brokenness, or a heart of guiltiness?
According to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, guilt is described in three different ways. The
first being the legal definition, the second is as stated below:
2) a : the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously
b : feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy :
So we see here that guilt produces feelings of inadequacy and self reproach
(disapproval or disappointment).
Initially, the feeling of guilt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I remember getting halfway through the Cross study and feeling quite guilty for my sin, but once the study had come to a close, my guiltiness had turned into brokenness. Recently I’ve realized that staying in a constant state of guilt, versus a constant state of brokenness creates faulty faith, and faulty character, rather than a firm faith and firm character.
Since we looked at the Merriam Webster definition of guilt, it only makes sense that we look at
the definition for broken:
3) a : made weak or infirm
b : subdued completely : crushed, sorrowful
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
I remember reading this Psalm last year, and being completely blown away. God is attracted to a broken heart. A great example of one of the many women in the bible known to have this broken heart is the Sinful Woman in Luke chapter 7.
“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she
is—that she is a sinner.”
I’m quite familiar with this verse, as I’m sure many of you are as well. But what I realized when
reading it this time around is that this woman, in her brokenness, has shown a few vital components to
building great faith and great character. First we see that she, although uninvited, had learned where Jesus was staying within her town. She was so desperate to be near Jesus that she was willing to go to a
Pharisee’s house, just to be with him. How much more desperate should we be? Especially considering
how accessible Jesus’ teachings are now that we have the Bible. How much more desperation should be
shown towards meet with the body of Christ, or devoting ourselves to prayer!
As we continue reading we see that this woman began to wipe Jesus’ feet with her tears as well as
perfume. But if we look closely, a distinction is made about her positioning when wiping his feet. The
scripture states that she is standing behind Jesus. Now perhaps I’m being too analytical, but if I wanted to wash someones feet I’d probably be standing in front of the person whose feet I’m supposed to be
washing. But for some reason, this woman thought It’d be better to wash Jesus’ feet from behind him.
Even the Pharisee makes a comment to himself about the situation saying “If this man were a prophet, he
would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner . ” Well, perhaps she
didn’t want Jesus to know “what kind of woman” she was. It seems as if this woman didn’t want her sin to
separate her from being able to serve, and be near Jesus. And the great thing is, as disciples we no longer have to wonder whether or not our sin keeps us from being close to Christ. As long as we embrace the call to repentance, it doesn’t! Now, let’s see how Jesus responds to both the woman and the Pharisee.
“You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Jesus describes this woman’s actions as a portrayal of her great love for him. This really stuck out to me. Personally, the way I determine whether I have a broken heart, or guilty heart, is by my response. A constant state of brokenness creates a godly response, whereas a constant state of guiltiness creates an ungodly response. And instead of feeling compelled to act in a way that shows our great love for Christ, I find that guilt if not turned into brokenness, only leads to discouragement. In order to show Christ our great love for Him, let us imitate the heart of the sinful woman and become broken .
Courtney Sierra Smith