By Aaron Elder
Because I want to. Depending on the company, I might actually admit as much, but whether or not I would, that first statement is a primary reason why I do what I do. Which makes me curious… If this is a primary reason, how have I managed to have a family and not trade them in for anything and everything related to baseball? There are actually multiple reasons from biological to spiritual, but ultimately what I want to do has changed. This shouldn’t be surprising. If you’re a human, this has happened to you somewhere along the line.
Why do I bring this up? Whether it is just for my own sake or for whoever is reading these, why am I writing these seemingly random entries about the Psalms? Not all of them relate precisely to the circumstances of a man’s life. So, why? One of the things I’ve observed in my own life is that how I interact with God shapes every relationship in my life. I’ve experienced God’s closeness at various times in my life, but my primary mode of operation has been to interact with God as though he has equations for living a good life and the ultimate goal of relationship with him is to make life work well.
As a result, my evaluation of my life is based on how well I’m executing the equations (prayer+bible+etc.=…). The other thing that happens is that my relationships follow suit. If other “like-minded” folks fit neatly in my worldview, relationships work very well. If they aren’t so “like-minded” they get trampled or excluded (or both). If God is an equation or a set of beliefs, then the people in my life will be assigned a value based on their adherence to my systematic theology.
What the psalmist is addressing is the nature of relationship as wholly dependent on how we relate to God.
Will I be faithful? (v.1)
Will I speak honestly with love and respect? (v.2)
Will I flatter and boast for my gain? (v.3)
Will I submit myself to others with mutual love and respect? (v.4)
Will I take advantage of other people? (v. 5)
Will I honor wickedness? (v.8)
God created men with strength to be exercised, but to what end? God desires for our strength to be exercised to bolster relationships – both with God and man. We have a responsibility to steward strength well. It starts with relating to God as a person and not as a puzzle to be solved. As I do that, God will transform my desires and my relationships with the people in my life.