Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The delight of the heart

Ps 5 contains the following verse:

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
  evil will not sojourn with you (v. 4).

The question I consider now is this: where do I find my delight? How does my emotional and sentimental life match up with that of God? This might tell us a lot about how far along we have come in the spiritual life.

The psalmist tells us that God has no delight in wickedness. He doesn't find anything particularly pleasing or happy about evil -- whether it be adultery, or lying, or murder, or hating another, etc. Consequently, when Paul tells us that we are to change into new persons, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4.24), we understand that this has to affect our inner life as well. Our sentiments and our desires and our feelings have to change, so that we assume a total likeness to God. This means we no longer find any delight in wickedness.

This is a fine spiritual test if ever there was one: what is your reaction to the way of life that people in the world celebrate? Of course, the number of persons who find some kind of delight in violent abuse of others is relatively small. But the kind of milder wickedness of the average person is not any less dangerous. A life of unrestrained pleasure-seeking is spiritually deadening as well, And how do we think and feel about that sort of life?

The person whose only goal in life is to enjoy himself cannot have any progress in the spiritual life. Faithfulness to God above everything is the defining characteristic of the spiritually mature person -- even when it costs him dearly. Christ was faithful to God unto death, and so were all the martyrs and all the saints. The psalmist himself shows such faithfulness in the desperation of his call:

Give ear to my words, O Lord,
  give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry,
  my King and my God,
  for to you I pray (vv. 1-2).

These are the words of a heart which has grown weary of life, the prayer of a person whose struggles have reached a culminating point. This person has chosen faithfulness and vulnerable dependence on God over the advantages and ease of a life of wickedness. If your only goal is to enjoy yourself, however, it will be very difficult (if not impossible) to stick out such difficult times, clinging to God.

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