“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”
I’ve begun reading the book The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In the first chapter, Bonhoeffer is explaining the concept of costly grace, and he writes, “Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it cost a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” I was reminded of this quote when I read these verses in Psalm 119. Life is found in the ways of God. Life is found in walking with Him, listening to His voice, maintaining sensitivity to the working of His Spirit by not hardening our heart through disobedience or selfishness, in following His commands and resting always confidently in His grace that covers us.
The grace offered in Jesus Christ is costly. It cost Him His life, and it costs us our lives as well. Not to work for our salvation, but to surrender ourselves to grace and allow it to come and change our lives, to change us to our very core, to show us what freedom truly is. Freedom isn’t found in living for ourselves; it is found in the testimonies and truth of our God. So we cry, “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” As we realize the love of our God for us, the amazing reality of His grace, the Spirit calls us to a life lived in holiness for the One who reigns over all.
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose…you above all peoples…Circumcise, therefore, the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn” (Deuteronomy 10:12-16).
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving…If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God…Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 2:6; 3:1, 12-15).
This is what a life fully lived looks like. This is a life completely sold-out, wholeheartedly committed to Christ. It’s a life in which your heart is inclined not to selfish gain, but to the commandments and character of your God. It’s a life filled with peace and joy and the beauty of our precious Lord. It’s a life where the power of God is exhibited in you as you walk victorious in Him, putting away the behaviors and sins that once held you captive and kept you distant from the One who truly satisfies.
Lord, turn our eyes away from worthless things. Show us what really matters, what will last, what will fill and satisfy our hungry, longing souls. Give us life in Your ways. Reveal and destroy the lies that tell us life is found elsewhere. It is only ever found in You. Thank You for Your grace that frees us from fear. So we can run to You, we can walk with You, knowing that You are renewing us, strengthening us, and upholding us each moment, and even in the moments when we fail, You are there to redeem and restore us. May we rest in this confidence and walk boldly, striving for holiness in You.