Only that which is empty can be filled. A container that is filled to the top with its contents can hold no more. Have you ever tried to put more into a suitcase than it will hold? So it is with the heart.
A heart also will overflow with whatever it is that fills it. If faith, then fruits of the Spirit will be evident. If the heart is filled with evil, and this is the natural condition of the heart since the fall, then evil will be manifest. When the heart is filled with envy, anger, hatred, lovelessness, selfishness, immorality and every other kind of sin, it is an ugly scene. If the heart is full of pride, conceit, and self-righteousness, the overflow is a veritable stench. It is manifest by such as the Pharisee who stood in the temple and said to God, “God, I thank you that I am not as other men are…”(Luke 18:12). That man left the temple with an empty heart even though he was filled with himself, but in reality he went home with a heart full of nothing!
Therefore, what is the point of all this? Only when our hearts are as empty as the beggar’s sack can the Lord God fill it with His love and His mercy. In society, being a beggar is loed upon as disgraceful. Conversely, coming to the Lord as a beggar reaps divine blessing. In the temple with the Pharisee stood the tax collector. He “would not so much as lift his eyes to heaven, but beat on his breast, and said ‘ God be merciful to me, a sinner’” (Luke 18:13). How great and clear the distinction! Jesus said, ” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone that exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
There is not room for Jesus in the heart that loves sin and wickedness, and will not repent. He does not reside in that heart that is controlled by pride and conceit, and self-righteousness. To such the law must be preached to root out the “weeds” that do not permit the beautiful flower of God’s grace to take root. So then, who is the beggar before God? The beggar before God is one who empties his backpack of sins before the throne of the Father and prays, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” David had no peace after his arranged murder of Uriah until he confessed His sin. Peter was an emotional wreck until the Savior loed at him. Remembering what the Savior had said, Peter went out and wept bitterly. Each of these people, the tax collector, David, and Peter, found the peace that passes all understanding when they confessed their sin and was filled with the assurance of forgiveness.
We daily sin much. However, daily the child of God will come before the Lord, pour out his sins in confession, and find that the Lord fills his heart with peace. Day by day, the ragged dress of the penitent beggar is replaced with the white robes of Christ’s righteousness. This is why one of the high points of our service is confession of sins. Through the confession of sins, our hearts are prepared to receive the blessing of absolution, the message that the Father for Jesus’ sake has forgiven us all our sins.
The penitent says, “Nothing in my hand I bring; Simply to Thy cross I cling.” Recently someone said to me, “I feel so unworthy to come before the Lord and seek forgiveness.” I told this person, “You are unworthy.” It is only the acknowledged “unworthy” who can go away in the peace of Jesus’ Word, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” The “worthy” are the Pharisees. The worthy in their own eyes are the losers. There is no room in their heart of Jesus and His love. Only when our hearts are as empty as a beggar’s bag can they be filled with and by Jesus.