“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” – Psalm 116:5-7
As I have been studying the book of Psalms, I have come across many famous passages that seem to always be missing a lot of important context. One of the verses that I have seen used frequently to describe God is Psalm 116:5, in saying that our God is a gracious and righteous God, full of compassion. What seems to be missed is the next point, where we, His creation, come into play.
What does it mean to be simplehearted? Webster’s Dictionary describes this quality as being, “free from deceit, open, frank, and/or sincere”. If we replace the verse (and adjust the grammar accordingly) with this definition, Psalm 116:6 would read, “The Lord protects (those with hearts that are) free from deceit, open, frank, and sincere.” This definition can be broken down into two parts, starting with being free from deceit. “Deceit” is “the act or practice of misrepresenting or concealing the truth.” This part of being simplehearted is the opposite of what God calls us to be. We are reminded by this passage to not conceal the truth, whether that is from other people or from God. The second part to being simplehearted is a call to action. The author, by using the word “simplehearted”, encourages us to allow ourselves to be open, frank, and sincere. We are not only supposed to avoid hiding our truth from God, but we are supposed to go to him with open hearts and open minds.
This past Thursday, our guest speaker in chapel shared a collective message about how to keep a burning fire for God in our hearts. He shared five tips that will help contribute to keeping the fire ablaze, but what stood out most to me was his closing point. He shared a passage from 2 Samuel 24 in which King David must prepare a sacrifice to God. In the context of this passage, a man named Araunah is trying to persuade David to pay for the sacrifice by giving him whatever David needs to make the sacrifice (2 Sam. 24:22-23). David responds with a symbolic remark pertaining to how we live our Christian lives by saying, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24). When we offer our lives up to God, it is supposed to be uncomfortable. If we do not experience a feeling of guilt or regret, there is no true repentance occurring. There are so many Christians today who pray the greatest theological prayers of, “Dear Jesus, use me as I am today so that I may further your Kingdom. Work in my life, open my heart, and create in me a representation of you…” However, many of these prayers are insincere. They are saying the right words, they can even be saying it with the right motives and intentions, but if there is no price being paid, no action being done, then the prayer is near to meaningless. God calls His children to walk out their faith, plain and simple. God calls His children to offer their lives to him, but with this God has allowed for emotional, spiritual, physical, mental or relational pain/tugging on the heart.
Being simplehearted is not just about being open and available to God; being simplehearted is also about ridding ourselves from a lifestyle of sin. Too often, we try to complicate life and differentiate which sins are worse than others. In this, we compare ourselves to other people’s sins (typically other Christians) and ask ourselves whether we sin more or less frequently than _____________. If the answer is less, then we are satisfied with where we are at (typically), but if the answer is more, we find someone new to compare ourselves to until we fulfill the satisfaction that we seek. Please understand this, sin is sin. No matter how we put it, sin is still sin, and sin hurts the heart of God. God never intended for us to live a life that is comfortable with certain sins, yet uncomfortable with other sins. Better yet, God never intended for us to live a life that is accepting of some sins, and unaccepting of other sins. When we present ourselves to God, he calls us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice. What are you putting on your altar before God? What is going through your mind as you sacrifice this to God? Is this difficult for you to give up total control of and to confess? If this isn’t difficult, I would rethink through about what you are sacrificing, better yet, possibly what you are not sacrificing and hiding from the face of God.
Simplehearted: break this word up and it means to have a simple heart. One that we keep away from sin, and allow God to do wonders with. When our focus is solely on Him, we do not have time to be “complicated-hearted”.
Hebrews 12:1-3, “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Dear God, teach us to throw off every sin and distraction that hinders us from you. Teach us to run with perseverance the race of faith. Most importantly, teach us to fix our eyes on you, for you are the author and perfecter of our faith. We pray for simple hearts, free of all deceit. We pray for simple hearts, open, available, and sincere to you and your truth. Let us take heed to your will being done in our lives. We pray this in your son’s name, Amen.