November 3 – Bet - Psalm 119:9-16

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 3 – Bet - Psalm 119:9-16

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy word.
With my whole heart I seek thee; let me not wander from thy commandments!
I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Blessed be thou, O LORD; teach me thy statutes!
With my lips I declare all the ordinances of thy mouth.
In the way of thy testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on thy precepts, and fix my eyes on thy ways.
I will delight in thy statutes; I will not forget thy word.

The word translated ‘commandment’ in verse ten is mitzvah.  You might have heard this word used by a Jewish friend.  I've actually read it in several books as well.  A mitzvah is a commandment. It refers to the 613 commandments given at Mount Sinai.  All moral laws come from divine commandments or mitzvot (plural of mitzvah).

I have heard the word used a bit differently, as a good (moral) deed performed as part of a religious duty and has become the word that describes an act of kindness. Acts of kindness should be things we do because we are commanded to do them.  They are obedience to God’s call to love others.

In the book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath, they talk about willpower.  One thing they say is that self-control is an exhaustible resource.  We run out of self-control.  It is difficult to change a behavior that is so ingrained that it has become automatic.  Our bodies become physically exhausted when we use our minds to control those behaviors.

The Psalmist gets it. We can’t do this alone.  We can’t exert enough personal strength of will to stay on the straight and narrow, to avoid poor choices and bad behavior.  We wear out and take the easy route, which generally leads to more poor choices and bad behavior.  Anyone who has tried to quit smoking or drinking, or tried to diet or tried to exercise or learn something new and exciting … and has failed miserably, will tell you that the Psalmist and Chip & Dan Heath are absolutely correct.  We can not do this alone.  That’s all there is to it.  When we attempt to make major life changes by ourselves, the failure rate is going to be much greater.

But verse ten begs the Lord to help us not wander from His commandments.  That is the beauty of a relationship with God.  His strength of will and His power over creation is more than enough to take us through change and bring us out of the depths of failure to transformation.

The best way to make a complete transformation of any type is to do it with the Lord’s help.  When our exhaustible supply of self-control is gone, His still remains.