An Undivided Heart; April 29, 2023

Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

There are other striking passages in this Psalm, but this verse sings to me the loudest right now. This is a prayer that every believer could and should pray frequently. We want to know the way that God has laid out for us, but we will not recognize it consistently without a commitment to walk in it. As James pointed out, it does no good to just know truth without living it out. (James 1:22) The thing is, as David alludes to in the second half of this verse, we often struggle with a divided heart. Part of us wants to follow God completely, and part of us wants to go our own way. Like the first half of the verse, this too calls for commitment to obedience. The Old Testament talks a lot about fearing God, or as here, fearing His name, where the New Testament talks much more about loving Him. However, we must never forget that Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) He expanded that to say, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching,” and, “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” (John 14:23, 24) Whether you call it fear or love, obedience is called for! I’m not sure we ever completely gain an undivided heart this side of heaven, because our flesh always wants to get in its two cents. However, we can always choose obedience, choose to love/fear God, and that is what we need to do. If we’re passive, expecting God to move us regardless of our choices, then we don’t understand free will. In a sense, choices are all God asks of us, but He definitely requires those of us. Consistently choosing to love and obey God is how we bring our heart into unity with His, and that is without question the highest good.

This is something I have struggled with, but I think everyone does. My struggles have left me very appreciative of the grace and mercy of God! I’ve never been the captain of a slave ship, but John Newton’s lyrics certainly resonate with me. They are very comforting, because if God could take the captain of a slave ship and remake him into a pastor, He can do anything He likes with me! However, for that to happen I need to be increasingly consistent in my choices. I may not yet have a completely undivided heart, but by His grace I can choose His half of it, and the more I do so the easier it will be. I have learned that the choice isn’t always between good and evil; that’s pretty easy to distinguish. It gets more complicated when it’s between good and God. I don’t want to do the minimum, I want to be and do exactly what God desires, and I’m not wise enough to do that. I’ve got to seek Him at every turn, relying not on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) but on the Holy Spirit He has given me, so that in all things I may be His agent, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I find that every time I draw closer to You, the devil tries to make me proud that I have done so. I pray that I may fully submit to You and consistently resist the devil, so that he may flee and Your will be done in and through me, for Your glory. (James 4:7) Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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