October 15, 2021

Psalm 51:16-17
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.
“I promise to do better.” How often does that sentence end your prayers of confession? Whether we mean to or not, that mindset can be a form of sacrifice, in the same way the Israelites used to offer sacrifices for their sins. We promise to pay a cost (our effort) in exchange for forgiveness. But in this passage, King David says God is not looking for sacrifice in exchange. And while we might want to argue that Jesus “paid the price” for our forgiveness, remember that this passage is from the old testament.
The only sacrifice David has to offer is something that requires almost zero effort on his part. He comes before God with a broken and contrite heart, essentially feeling incredibly sorry for his sins. If you’ve ever asked a small child (or a teenager) to say sorry for something when they didn’t actually feel sorry, you know how pointless it is to try and manufacture a sense of “being sorry.” 
So David is essentially saying his sacrifice is being, not doing. By being broken and contrite, he is in a position to receive God’s restoration. The same is true for you and I. We cannot work our way into readiness for God. We can’t sacrifice enough to finally experience transformation. The only way is to be ready to let God do his work.
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