Oh, How I Love Your Law!

Daily Office Meditation: 6th Week of Easter – Wednesday

(97) Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. (112) I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, to the very end. (114) You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.
Psalm 119:97; 112; 114

(13) Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. (14) Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (15) And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (16) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
James 5:13-16

(22) “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. (23) “Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. (24) “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? (29) “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. (30) …Your Father knows that you need these things. (31) “But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
Luke 12:22-24; 29-31

OK, so this Psalm always perplexed me. As a child, I had a lot of issues with the rules… so the idea of loving the law seemed anathema to me. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize more and more that this principle is at the center of the Christian life. As Romans 12:1-2 tells us, the core of Christian transformation is in the renewing of our mind. The key is in verse 112 of the Psalm: “I have inclined my heart to perform your statutes…” This inclining of the heart is the active pursuit of the renewal of your mind in Christ Jesus.

As we encounter Him, read and meditate on His word, and declare/practice His truth, we begin to love what He commands. We find that in His service is perfect freedom. This was the contradiction I wrestled with as a child. I wanted everything my way, but in submitting to God (or His authority in my life at the time) I found deeper joy and peace. This was by no means an easy transformation, but gradually my parents said they began to feel like I was on their side.

As we align our will with the Father’s (mostly through a revelation of the goodness of God in our life), we begin to have powerful and fervent prayer. As our hope is found in His word to us, our prayer becomes participation with God instead of a plea to God. We begin to see the problems in our lives through God’s eyes and our faith is raised to pray for the sick and suffering. We press into God’s plan on earth, the Church, and we experience the kingdom of God through obedience. It becomes a positive feedback loop. We pray for God’s plan, we obey God’s plan, experience God’s peace, ask Him for His plan, obey His plan and so forth.

Therefore, Jesus says to us, “Do not be anxious… But seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” God knows what you need, He has incorporated them into His plan. Seek His plan, and all that you need shall be added unto you. C.S. Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” All our anxiety is answered in this: “Your Father knows that you need these things.”

This is no prosperity Gospel, God may know that you need a crucifixion. Jesus invitation is summed up by Bonhoeffer, “Come and die.” God will transform your desires through your personal cross so that your will becomes aligned with His. And, while God absolutely does desire prosperity in all aspects of our lives, He cares for more for our soul than for our bellies. (bellies symbolically representing our craving for fleshly things)
Trust God, die to yourself, fall in love with His law, and ALL these things shall be added unto you.

2 Comments

  1. You quote “The key is in verse 112 of the Psalm: “I have inclined my heart to perform your statutes…” (btw, you have statues there, not statutes) And then you go on to say it’s the renewal of your mind. I would challenge and say that the Psalmist is correct–in that one PERFORMS the statutes and commandments TO renew the mind. It clearly says to perform them. It’s a very Western Greek notion to have some mental exercise, but the kingdom principle of first in the natural, then the spiritual is in play here. We are mere humans who need to go through things–sabbaths, feasts, all of those things. Even Messiah learned from his suffering. Do we not think he was submissive to the Father all along? Since the beginning? Abraham was obedient to the commandments and it was accounted to him as righteousness. He didn’t just sit in the tent door and give mental assent. He also gathered up Isaac and trudged up that mountain. It’s a self-disservice to go “Oh, this is a spiritual principle and I’ll contemplate it.”

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    1. Thanks for the thoughtful reply! I’ll say that I think that you may have struck a point where the both/and approach is more true than the either/or. Another place where it is common for people to accuse Western Christians of being too Greek is to always jump to the either/or when a both/and approach might be more true. Yes, obedience often comes before understanding. And although you are right that the Greeks were very focused on the importance of ideas, it is Aristotle who clearly articulated the idea of embodied virtue becoming habit as the path to the good life. I think you find both approaches represented in Scripture. There is a strong emphasis on meditation (not the Eastern emptying of the mind, but the dwelling on and contemplating of Scripture and God) and the Jews would even memorize large portions of Scripture as a part of the renewing of their mind. One example, if you spend all day thinking evil thoughts and consuming secular media (TV, books, philosophies) then it will be hard to think on those things are pure, noble, good, etc. There is also a focus on acting out the law of God. James clearly shows that our faith is only real in its embodiment. In my post, I clearly focus on the mental aspect and you are right to point out that that is only half the battle!

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