I have inclined my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end. Psalm 119:112
Tell a child, “Don’t do that!” and they’ll set out to do it. Tell a child “Do this!” and they’ll want to do anything but that. Being told what to do is distasteful. Rebellion is bound up in the heart of every newborn. If not conquered, rebellion will remain a spiritual disease for the breadth of their lifetime. Though they are God’s child, they will strain under His commandments. They will obey from time to time, but down deep, they will resent being told what to do.
David is tough on himself. He knows that without some hard work in prayer, his heart will not be engaged to obey with gladness. David announces to God that he has dealt with his heart’s desire to be autonomous. He has done whatever it takes to bend his heart toward loving God’s ways.
Are there any ways in me that are still childish? Do I obey God only when I feel like it? Do I obey only the things which don’t require sacrifice? If so, I am no better than a pouting three year old. To grow up, I enter into the conflict of my flesh and my spirit. I recognize and own that my flesh wants one thing; my spirit quite another. I take my own flesh to God in prayer and admit that it’s bent in the wrong direction. I cry out for mercy, for a heart change. I don’t want to grind out a life of obedience that is rooted in behavior modification; all the while my heart privately dreams of doing my own thing. I will resent God and truly believe He is the one keeping me from joy.
When I teach, I often face a church full of sullen faces. They are ‘technically’ in the kingdom but their hearts have not discovered that Jesus is their treasure and that His burden is light. Heart reformation has never been taught. Doing the Christian thing has been the focus of their environment. Satan keeps them in chains, a bondage built on the lie that they know best and God is One who steals their joy by asking them to live in a prison of rules. They have no idea that the way of the disciple is freedom and exhilaration. They do not know that the presumed ‘prison of rules’ is the tomb and obedience is walking out into the spacious place of the resurrection.
If my heart is not inclined toward you and what you ask of me, change me. Amen