“I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” (vv. 2b–3a).- Psalm 101
Do I resolve to serve the Lord because I am trying to secure my place in His kingdom, or is my service to Him grounded in the reality that He alone has made me a citizen of heaven, moving me to gratefully live a life that pleases Him? That is a question we should be asking ourselves every day, given the proclivity of the human heart to believe we can earn our own righteousness before God. The Christian motive for holiness is love and gratitude, not the desire to make ourselves good enough to be accepted by our Creator. Among other lessons, this is what we learn from Psalm 101.
Psalm 101 presents the resolve of King David to live a life of godliness and to rule with integrity, and yet David does not write of this resolve until after he has praised God for His “steadfast love and justice.” Understanding the saving work of the Lord and Christ’s fulfillment of the just demands of God’s law in our place form the foundation for our sanctification, or our growth in holiness. The effort we put into avoiding sin and growing in holiness is real, but it is an outworking of the work of our Creator Himself. Because He has worked to atone for our sin in the cross of Christ and because He is working in us by His Spirit to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, we strive for godliness as our way of thanking Him. We work out our salvation in fear and trembling because God is at work within us and is working out His perfect plan for our holiness in and through us (Phil. 2:12–13).
Today’s passage models the resolve that any godly person should have, but it has special application to the leaders of God’s people. These leaders must, as one commentator puts it, shun evil in any form. Such individuals do not think on what is worthless (Ps. 101:3a), and they hate with a passion all those things that might lead them astray from the narrow path (v. 3b). So dedicated are they to the eradication of sin that they are not content to deal only with externals. They root out all perversity of heart that they can find (v. 4). In fact, they are so committed to holiness that they address even the sins committed in secret (v. 5), and they endeavor to keep wickedness from taking root in their own households (vv. 6–8).
Let us conclude by noting the Apostle Paul’s warning: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). If we trust in our own strength to stand firm for the Lord, we will by no means endure temptation. Understanding God’s work for our sake sets us on the road of sanctification, and forgetting it will cause us to stumble.
We must be reminded that the good news of Christ’s work is as necessary for us as we live the Christian life as it was when we were converted. Constant reflection on our Savior’s cross is the fuel that sustains our Spirit-animated gratitude, which is necessary if we will remember our need for God to sanctify us. As we resolve to serve the Lord, may we ever remember what Christ has done that we may be empowered by thankfulness to stand firm against sin.
Passages for Further Study
2 Timothy 2:8