“On this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word”Isaiah 66:2b
We all desire that other people see us in a favourable light. What other people think of us has power over us; but we may discover one day that few thought much about us anyway. There is only one person’s favour that is worthwhile and that is God’s.
The world holds in high esteem the bold, the brave, the talented and the prominent; but the news in recent times is that many who were once held in high esteem have a dark past which is now coming to light. People who held sway over the opinions of many are being revealed as unworthy of that esteem.
If we want God to look favourably on us we need to know who He does so regard. In the verse above He gives two of the qualities absolutely vital to receiving God’s favour: a poor spirit and a contrite spirit. There are others not mentioned here but mentioned in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12).
One who is poor in spirit is one who knows they are absolutely bankrupt when it comes to God’s righteousness. The proud and arrogant person knows nothing of this and continues to show God and everyone how self-righteous he is. The measure of righteousness that qualifies for heaven is Jesus Christ Himself. Though some seem to think they do, no man measures up to God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; Matthew 5:20).
One who is of a contrite spirit is one who has a repentant heart toward God because of his poverty of spirit in righteousness. Instead of trying in vain to measure up he accepts that he falls short of God’s righteous measure and seeks God’s mercy, forgiveness and righteousness as a gift by faith (Romans 3:19-31).
God says through Isaiah that He will not look favourably on the self-righteous but will look favourably on the person who acknowledges their sinfulness and bankruptcy in righteousness. Such a one is in a blessed place because he/she will seek God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Only a person humble in heart will tremble at God’s word and, with a repentant heart, seek and receive His forgiveness. The proud and arrogant do not do so because they don’t believe they need it.