I’ve been struggling somewhat spiritually over the past two or three weeks. As I talked with my friend, Bill, yesterday And I realised that part of the reason was a failure on my part to be disciplined about treasuring Christ. It’s not that haven’t been reading my Bible or praying. I have been disciplined about my duties, as it were. But they are been formalities. And formalities are not enough. Reading the Bible. Tick. It doesn’t do the job.
I realise I need to discipline my heart to treasure Christ each day. That means, for example, finding some aspect of who Christ is or what he has done that I will mediate on, rejoice in, take to heart, chew over until my heart is captivated, until my spirit is renewed, until my affections are captured afresh. And then, perhaps, to take that thought into the day and return to it trhoughout the day. It means the discipline of meditaitng on Christ when temptation arises; if redirecting my thoughts away from sinful desires toward the altogether lovely one. It is the disicpline of finding joy in Christ.
My reading this morning from Psalm 1 was timely.
Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the LORD,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.
We need to avoid all those influences that might strengthen our sinful desires – people, certain films and magazines, advertising, late night television (v. 1). We can’t live in a ghetto, but we can reduce influences that we know trouble us. The more we avoid ‘the advice of the wicked’, the stronger will be our desire for the Lord. It is a virtuous circle. In place of this wicked advice, we need to meditate on the word of God (v. 2). The truth that is in Jesus needs to become ‘the soundtrack of our lives’. Then we can bear fruit whatever the season: in times of blessings and in times of adversity, in times of enthusiasm and in times of temptation (v. 3). This is the way of joy.
You, O LORD, are a shield around me;
you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. (Psalm 3:3)