Guest essay by R. J. Rushdoony
Contrition is not a word we hear much today. In fact, it has an old-fashioned ring to it, and some people are vague as to its meaning. The word contrition means being penitent for our sins. The root of the word comes from the Latin and old French, from a word meaning to bruise or to grind. In other words, our sins hurt other people (and offend God). There is therefore no true repentance, no contrition, until what we have done begins to hurt us, to pain us, as we realize what we have done.
Now God says something amazing about contrition: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Isa. 57:15). God equates His two great dwelling places: the heaven of heavens and “a contrite and humble spirit.”
This is why true contrition is so remarkable. It brings the Almighty into the spirit of a man who feels contrition, who is hurt, because of the hurt he has caused to others, and the hurt he renders to God’s cause and Kingdom.
This is a time when personal and national contrition is very seriously needed. Pride and arrogance have ruled too many; to hurt others has become a goal for too many. Humor has changed from being happy laughter to savage hostilities, and our comedians vie in trying to demean others. Our youth delight in put-downs and insolence, and ugliness has become a way of life for many.
It is time for contrition.
The late Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916-2001) was the founder of Chalcedon and a leading theologian, church-state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical Law to society.
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