‘Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees...’ Palm 119.33
On the one hand, this beautiful psalm speaks much about law, which is something that we often tend to shy away from, but behind the words we find the heart of a man who was anchored in his relationship with the God he loved.
So many times you may find yourself doing ‘Christian’ things for a variety of reasons, perhaps out of duty or a sense of ‘ought’. This isn’t necessarily wrong but it does become a problem when duty is devoid of relationship. It is at this point that we can become resentful of what we feel is being asked of us. It was the psalmist’s ability to catch the relationship between his obedience and his duty that stopped him from becoming resentful. How can we nurture a similar attitude?
Our approach to reading the Bible is one means of doing this. The tendency is often to read the words in much the same way as we would read any other book, when really we should be aiming to catch the relationship behind them. It might help to read the Bible out loud so that the words are heard as well as read, or to listen to the passage in an audio version. The aim is to catch the voice behind the words, the relationship as well as the commands, the Spirit as well as the letter.
As well as expressing God’s message to you, the words that you read also convey his heart and love for you and the world in which he has placed you.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission