Better Left Broken
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise."
God fixes things. Is He fixing you? Right from the beginning of the world He has been about setting things right. Adam was created first, without a wife, and the Lord said “it is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a helper (Genesis 2:18).” But our God’s grace in restoring and repairing is displayed even more vividly after man fell into sin. Our relationship with God was ruined by our rebellion. But God through Christ has undertaken to repair this by the Cross for all who believe: “For He Himself is our peace.” Where ruining sin abounded, restoring grace abounded much more. The whole of heaven and earth are even now awaiting this Divine Repair. God fixes things. It is, in fact, His name: “and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to dwell in (Isaiah 58:12).”
The Scriptures, however, speak of one broken thing which God will not try to fix. Everywhere else He makes gracious provision for repair. But here alone He, as it were, restrains His very nature and leaves this thing broken. He is pleased, if you will, by its brokenness. This thing, dear reader, is a broken heart. So says the Psalmist: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:17).” A broken heart in man is a great delight to God. He draws near when He finds it. “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart…(Psalm 34:18)” He who gives sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, strength to the lame and even life to the dead…comes to this broken heart and says, as it were, “ah…better, much better, if this is left broken.” A broken heart is a beautiful thing to the eyes of God.
But what exactly is a broken heart? What do the Scriptures mean by a broken heart? How can I know if I indeed have a broken heart? These questions come to my mind. I suppose there are many more. At best we can scratch the surface of this important truth. But the answers to these questions should get us driving in the right direction.
A broken heart is, first of all, a sin-sick heart. A broken heart is broken under the weight and reality of its own sin. The holy law of God stands in righteous judgment over this heart that knows it is a sinner. “God be merciful to me a sinner” is the cry of a broken heart. This heart no longer seeks to justify sin. This heart no longer seeks to excuse its sin. This broken heart sheds holy tears of sorrow and godly repentance over his sin. Reader, does your own sin sicken you and sadden your soul? Does your heart cry, like Paul, “Oh wretched man that I am?” That, I believe, is a sign of a broken heart. God loves this broken heart because it is He, by His Spirit, who broke it. Charles Spurgeon, that great London Baptist preacher of the 19th century, said this in a sermon about the work of God’s Spirit in the heart of man: “The Holy Spirit lays bare his heart, lets him see the loathsome cancer that is there eating away his life, uncovers to him all the blackness and defilement of that sink of hell, the human heart, and then the man stands aghast.” A broken heart is a sin-sick heart. Have you, dear reader, stood aghast at the sight of your sin? If not, then I fear you have not a broken heart.
A broken heart is, secondly, a sin-slain heart. Knowledge of his sin and misery has left him helpless and hopeless of saving himself. He that has a broken heart knows he can do nothing to please God. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” He is, as Paul says to the Ephesians, “dead in trespasses and sins.” Reader, has your own sin crushed you and killed you? Or, in your own mind, is it not so bad as that. Every sin has death written on it. “The wages of sin is death.” Do you believe the words of this old and wise confession “All people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, unfit for any saving good, inclined to evil, dead in their sins, and slaves to sin; without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their distorted nature, or even to dispose themselves to such reform?” A broken heart is a sin-slain heart. This heart sings, with the hymnist, “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” A broken heart has given up all hopes of saving itself. Reader, do you believe this? If not, then I suspect you have not a broken heart.
A broken heart is, thirdly, a sin-surrendering heart. It longs to be rid of sin. “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” A broken heart longs for heaven, longs for God, longs for Christ. A broken heart wants be rid of all the remnants of sin within, “earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven (2 Cor. 5:4).” Dear reader, are you ready to leave every sin this very moment? The broken heart is like Moses who chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin…for he looked to the reward (Heb. 11:25).” The broken heart says, with Augustine, “Lord, save me from that wicked man, myself!” Do you desire to be saved from yourself, your sin, your corruption, and all your evil desires? If not, dear reader, you have not a broken heart.
Finally, a broken heart rests in the only Savior for sinners, Jesus Christ. Broken hearts come to Jesus Christ. They say, with the Psalmist “My flesh and my heart fail me, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26).” My dear reader, if you are seeking to deal with your sin in any other way than coming to Christ, you have not a broken heart. It must be said of you, as Peter said to Sorcerer, “your heart is not right in the sight of God (Acts 8:21).” . Believe this: Jesus Christ only dwells in broken hearts. A broken heart is the closest thing to heaven on earth. God dwells there. “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word (Isaiah 66:2).” Listen to these words of the Puritan pastor Thomas Watson: "Faith lives in a broken heart. 'He cried out with tears, Lord, I believe.' True faith is always in a heart bruised for sin. They, therefore, whose hearts were never touched for sin, have no faith. If a physician should tell us there was a herb that would help us against all infections, but it always grows in a watery place; if we should see a herb like it in colour, leaf, smell, blossom, but growing upon a rock, we should conclude that it was the wrong herb. So saving faith always grows in a heart humbled for sin, in a weeping eye and a tearful conscience." God loves a broken heart. It is, in fact, the one thing that is better left broken.