In the quiet before official worship began today, I intentionally opened my Bible to Psalms, randomly to 86. As a poet (no poems today, sorry!) I appreciated the variety of structures that enhanced the meaning. But verse 8 touched my soul on two requirements of growing in Christ. Both flow from how I see our typical and fallen human nature. Guess that makes sense, since God made us and best knows how we operate.
The first prayer by David to God is “Teach me your ways.” Not many of us can claim to know God’s ways well on our own. Our very nature counters godly living—sin comes much too easy to be a stranger. We need an external source of information—God. I teach high school and college, and long ago discovered I can’t make anyone learn. They need to listen, to absorb, to think to study, to synthesize. Same with us. God’s info is there, our job is to take it in.
Only then can we “walk in your truth.” We can’t follow a path without a map, but with it we can reach our destination. The next step brings in the issue of balance.
“Give me an undivided heart” touches on how most cultures sense a desire to connect with some form of divine being, yet it counters our nature once again. We have so many voices clamoring for significance in our lives. Family and jobs and culture and self and God all seek preeminence. Our hearts get split and pulled apart and we lack wholeness. So David, assuming he now knew God’s ways, asked for a heart that was ‘hopelessly devoted” to God.
A character in the New Testament prayed, “I believe, help my unbelief.” You’re likely reading this because you’ve either decided to follow Jesus or are interested, so our prayer could easily be, “I love you, help my lack of love.”
Only then can we “fear your name.” Not instantly and completely, but we progress on the path to spiritual wholeness.
Now, here’s where the balancing act comes in. Some Christians focus so much on knowing God’s rules that they miss loving God. Others focus on loving so much they miss knowing.
Only when we combine the two: knowing God’s ways so we can act godly with loving God wholly can we sense his transcendence and majesty and overwhelming love.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you lean in one direction—knowing the rules or loving God? What makes you do so? Do you have any questions about both being essential elements to deeply knowing God? If you tend to be light on the knowledge, why have you neglected that? What specific steps can you take to develop your knowledge base?
If you tend to be light on having a pure heart that fears God, what most competes with having an undivided heart? What specific steps can you take to make your heart be more undivided?