Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Verses and Verve

Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. Psalm 119:2-3

There is joy in obeying God, but there is an important caveat, though not as obviously stated here, that is communicated elsewhere. Obeying the Law of God without knowing the Lawgiver will not bring you to the joy the Psalmist speaks to.

Let's say you chose to follow the teachings of the book of Proverbs. Solomon states the purpose of this collection of Godly wisdom right from the introduction...

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. Proverbs 1:1-4

Using the Proverbs alone, you could certainly create an impressive moral and life-action code. You could develop a behavioral system that sets you on the path of a clean, successful, and even pious life. You would shine. The predictions of cause and effect, or obedience and benefit, described in the Proverbs would manifest themselves in your life.

Your response might be, "That would suit me fine. Give me the list!"

My response would be, "Would it?"

That caveat is important. You know, that part about getting two hearts involved--your heart and God's heart. Search(ing) for Him with all your heart cannot be separated from finding joy. Consider this. Jesus, in near frustration, spoke to some of the most upstanding people of his day who lived by a wholesome regimen, rather than in a wholehearted relationship with God...

You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. John 5:39

So, apart from a heart-to-heart relationship with God, we could be a pretty "good" people, just as the audience Jesus spoke to was. But it is quite clear that they weren't becoming the persons God intended. We would be like them, proceeding through life, but never really living, because that approach produces like-kind. And like them, we will find ourselves striving to obtain that other special something, when what we really need is a relationship with that special Someone.

We won't find the joy the Psalmist speaks to in obedience to a set of guidelines alone. We need more than verses. We also need the verve of the indwelling Christ. The joy of obedience comes from a spiritual source. If the magnetic north of our moral compass doesn't include God's heart, you can bet that subtle compromises will soon follow.

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