I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalm 40,9)
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1.John 5:3)
The Psalmist echoes the conviction of countless people around the globe, that rejoice in the Lord and delight to do his will, which they carry in their hearts. That’s why they gather around the Lord’s most precious gifts – his means of grace – listen attentively to his holy Word in readings, quotations, sermons and elaborations, sing godly hymns of adoration, remembrance and gospel witness and kneel down at the altar to receive the very body and blood of our Lord and saviour for the forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our faith and our blessings and keeping unto life everlasting, deeply grateful for his goodness and mercy which is new every morning – and which he shows to us especially on Sundays and in his holy Church.
Christians worldwide delight in the holy will of God, which is inscribed into the hearts of all people. That doesn’t mean that they are by any measure perfect and not plagued by faithlessness, despair and other terrible evils day in day out – even if those divine commandments are not hard to keep. They are not too grievous nor too plenteous to abide by – just 10 simple instructions – and yet we have failed in every one of them. Just look at your calling and then measure that up to God’s most holy will. You’ll see, that we can’t even hold one of them perfectly – never mind move heaven and earth or save this or that one. Or did you love, trust and fear God above all else for just one day, hour, minute? You understand? We can’t save ourselves by means of the law, doing this or omitting that. It was not meant for that purpose in the first place. We’re just not able to use the law perfectly and in such a way as to measure up to God’s absolute standards by keeping it – for if we sin but in one regard, we are guilty of all.
Still we do know that God’s law is good and perfect. It was not given for our destruction, but rather to guard the gift of blessed life in God’s holy presence – not to achieve or earn it. Now in our fallen state it is but a clear instruction towards Jesus Christ our saviour and redeemer, because he has had mercy on those heavily laden and burdened with doubt, insincerity, lack of love, hope and goodwill etc etc and therefore has forgiven all of our sins and iniquities of the world for his own sake – paving the way to heaven and eternal bliss with him in heaven.
We stand under the obligation to fulfil the will of God and follow the commandments of the Lord. Our sinfulness does not excuse our non-fulfilment, nor does it work as an excuse or cover-up for continuing as we are. Rather God want’s us to live according to his holy will, comply with his commandments and be like him – holy, perfect and good. That’s what we’re supposed to be like. Yet, there is no other way but to seek the grace and forgiveness of the very same God and Lord so as not to cast us away from his presence, but to let his face shine graciously upon us, remitting our sins and letting us live under his loving care now and always. In this tension we live our lives – and the triune God has kindled the faith in our hearts that we would trust in him for his mercy and favour for Christ’s sake so that we can go our way gratefully and full of his praises. Amen.
1 “Come, follow Me,” the Saviour spake,
“All in My way abiding;
Deny yourselves, the world forsake,
Obey My call and guiding.
Oh, bear the cross, whate’er betide,
Take my example for your guide.
2 “I am the Light; I light the way,
A godly life displaying;
I bid you walk as in the day;
I keep your feet from straying.
I am the Way, and well I show
How you must sojourn here below.
3 “I teach you how to shun and flee
What harms your soul’s salvation,
Your heart from ev’ry guile to free,
From sin and its temptation.
I am the Refuge of the soul
And lead you to your heav’nly goal.
4 “Thus when you find most hot the fray,
I at your side stand ready;
The fight is Mine, I lead the way,
At all times firm and steady.
A soldier false who will not heed
when Christ the Captain takes the lead!
5 Then let us follow Christ, our Lord,
And take the cross appointed
And, firmly clinging to His Word,
In suff’ring be undaunted.
For all who bear the battle’s strain
The crown of life they shall obtain.
Johann Scheffler 1624-1677 translated by Charles W. Schaeffer 1813-1896