“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”
This past Sunday we discussed what it looks like to have a soul that is full of Christ from Psalm 103. Most profoundly, a soul that is filled to the brim with Christ (along with every other part of a person’s being) is one that has been thoroughly influenced by what v. 8 says:
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
The more we experience God’s grace and mercy and steadfast love in Christ (which comes in the form of the gospel; the good news that Jesus saves sinners!), the more that our souls feel satisfied!
What an immense truth this is! But sometimes this tends to cancel out our desire to obey. You see, God’s grace and our obedience aren’t mutually exclusive. Look at what the Psalmist says in verses 17-18:
“But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but David is meshing these two thoughts together in one sentence (God’s grace – “steadfast love” – and our obedience – “those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments”). You can’t really have one without the other; that God’s steadfast love is married to our obedience (and we see this all throughout Scripture – i.e. James 2:17.
Even more incredible is the progression we see in these two verses. It starts with God’s everlasting love, which leads to fear (respect, reverence, awe), and finally producing obedience. Why don’t we obey? Because we don’t fear. Why don’t we fear? Because we haven’t experienced God’s love. All of these elements are intertwined.
So what’s the action step? It’s not to first tell yourself to obey! Then you view God as a means to an end. It’s not even to tell yourself to revere God more! While that is a great step, it still can’t be your first move. Your first action step has to be this: to remind yourself of God’s faithfulness to you (hence, why David does so over and over again in Psalm 103).
When we remind ourselves of how incredibly faithful God has been to redeem our lives from the pit (v. 4), our souls will be completely captivated, enamored, and enraptured by Christ, and we will be catapulted into obedience. We won’t be able to contain our obedience. We will actually desire to obey. Not to earn anything (because we already have everything), but rather to joyfully pursue it because it is an act of worship!