A Servant's Plea for God's Word

July 3, 2011 Series: Psalm 119 Scripture: Psalm 119:121-128 by Chris Strevel

121 AIN. I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.

122 Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.

123 Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.

124 Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.

125 I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.

126 It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.

127 Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.

128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.

To Deliver from Oppression (vv. 121-122)

God’s people will feel the oppression of the wicked deeply. It presses upon us personally as we seek to defend God’s honor and make our only boast in Christ’s cross. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). It may be milder or stronger, depending upon the times in which we live, God’s wise shepherding of our souls, and the state of the wicked themselves, who are often too lazy and blind to recognize Christ’s servants as their true enemies or are held back by God’s power. He may restrain them because we are too lazy and weak to maintain our profession in the midst of Satan’s ferocity or simply because he holds the wicked in derision and has set his King to reign upon Zion’s hill (Ps. 2:6). Even if God’s enemies happen not to be roaring against us, who can passively sit by when God’s word is ignored, his church unsupported by leaders who should be its “foster-fathers and nursing-mothers” (Isa. 49:23), and the church herself weakened by blind guides, itching-ear members, and doctrinal compromise? Thus, a general haze of oppression hangs over the church in almost every age. While the glorious gospel of our Savior and his true disciples will go from “strength to strength” and “glory to glory,” our wise Father leaves sufficient oppression in the world to chase us to his throne of grace, conform us to our Head, who learned obedience by the things that he suffered (Heb. 5:8), and to make us feel that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth so that we might seek God’s eternal city (Heb. 13:14). If we are to feel the force of David’s plea in the depths of our soul, we must also understand that oppression is to be defined not as the world does – not having what we think is our right, minorities not having their way with things, or groups of angry perverts demanding to be treated as saints and victims – but as the opposition we feel because we are God’s servants. That is, biblical oppression is always God-centered and word-induced. It comes to us because we love God and his word while the world hates both. It comes to us because we speak his truth and suffer violence, in word or deed, for our boast in our Savior’s cross. If we are not seeking to live for God and are not loving his truth, any “oppression” we feel is simply the anger of children who are mad because they cannot get their way. All gospel oppression drives the soul to God as its only defender.

If we are to have God for our defender – O, what courage and hope this should inspire in us! – “judgment and justice” must be the tenor of our lives. We are not fighting God’s battles and cannot have him for our Captain and Shield unless we are practicing righteousness. This means that we are obeying his word with the help of his gracious Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2), mourning over our many failings, but nonetheless delighting in holiness of life. Practically, it means we are speaking and defending his truth, actively doing good, not merely abstaining from evil, and not rendering evil for evil, as our Savior said. Righteousness is “turning the other cheek,” praying for those who persecute us,” and overcoming evil with good (Matt. 5:39,44; Rom. 12:21). Especially when we love our enemies and do good to those that hate us, we are like our Father in heaven. Personal vengeance is the last thing on our minds. Why? When we devote ourselves to pursuing righteousness according to God’s word, we necessarily commit ourselves to his safekeeping, depending upon him to vindicate us, and waiting upon him to deliver us (1 Pet. 2:23). Then, and only then, do we have any legitimate expectation that our Father will not “leave us to our oppressors.” This is not to plead our own merits, of course, for we look to the crucified Son of God as our only righteousness before God. In union with him, however, the fruits of his righteousness will be evident in our lives (Phil. 1:11). Our lives as his devoted servants will be decidedly different from those in the world. We shall speak his truth, honor his word, and pursue justice, however violently and deceitfully men may treat us. This attitude is wholly opposed to the modern spirit that thinks first of self-defense, individually and collectively, rather than of God as our shield and protector. It is equally opposed to the idea in conservative circles that the only way to defend religious and political liberty is to play ball with the infidels and use merely human weaponry to effect the righteousness of God. His righteousness and justice is decidedly opposed to man’s pseudo- and self-oriented judgment, and we shall never defend his truth and kingdom unless we are committed to his word as the only standard of righteousness and the recognized reign of his Son as the only source of justice. We may not have many human friends if we take such a “hard line,” for compromise is the name of the game in the city of man. Turning from this blindness, however, we shall have God for our defender and may sincerely plead a pure conscience before him – that we have preferred the world’s reproach to dishonoring him, Christ’s kingdom to man’s regime of tyranny. Then, we have every assurance that he will hear and answer our pleas, that he will lift himself up for our defense, and that he will build the church and kingdom of his Son over the very gates of hell.

David’s plea – “Be surety for thy servant for good” – shows us that our involvement in the battle for God’s righteousness is intensely personal. We are God’s servants. To be God’s servant is to make his will our only guide and his pleasure our only reward. It means that we delight to be under his authority, to be directed by him as our only teacher, and to consider any day in which we have done our own will a loss, an abdication of our allegiance to him, a loss of joy and peace. It means that “zeal for his house consumes us, and the reproaches of those who reproach him fall upon us” (Ps. 69:9). Yet, we cannot plead for God to deliver us from the oppression of men unless we are his devoted servants, unless we are both filled with zeal for his honor and purity and have a deep sense of our weakness and need of his protection. Then, we may call upon his pledge to us to do us good all our days (Ps. 23:6). He is good and does good (Ps. 119:66). He delights to do good and show mercy to his servants (Mic. 7:18). His pledged goodness is our great hope. It is the food that feeds our soul as we seek to live righteously in the midst of this “crooked and perverse generation,” the light that shows us our path in dark places, and the promise that quenches despair when the road grows rugged and lonely. Are we confident in God’s goodness, or has the failure to pursue righteousness in our hearts, relations, and duties hid his face from us so that we lack assurance of his love and favor? Do we call upon him to show us good? We may think we have sufficient strength in ourselves to “make our mountain to stand strong,” but he will hide his face from us to trouble us (Ps. 30:7). He will teach us in the midst of the daily battles for purity of thought, family righteousness, and vocational integrity that he alone is our good and help. He will not allow us to trust the idols of our heart for long. He will be all our good, all our hope, all our defense. We can know if we are making any progress toward his goodness if we are calling upon him consistently, perseveringly. We are turning from the vanity of our own hearts only if we are calling upon God and giving him no rest. Can we say: “Thou are my portion” (Ps. 119:57), that he is our only goodness and happiness in this life? If he is, then whatever obstacles we face, whatever pressures the wicked exert against us, there will be an inexhaustible fountain of goodness to cheer us on our way, make us faithful in duty, grateful simply to be the servants of God, and confident that in his own time and way, he will deliver us from oppression and bring us to a wide place where “our glory may sing praise unto thee, and not be silent” (Ps. 30:12).

With Fervent Desire for God’s Word (v. 123)

The Lord will exercise our faith through oppression and adversity, as well as through the weakness of our bodies and the sinfulness of our hearts. It is not enough to pray once or twice, or even for an extended season. Our lives must be nothing but a continuous plea to the Lord to hear and help us. We must not allow the privileged knowledge of our Savior’s intercession to lull us to sleep. No, he reveals himself as our Advocate at the Father’s right hand to stir us up all the more to come to the throne of grace, pour out our soul before him, and call upon the name of the Lord without ceasing. We learn by this petition, moreover, that praying the right things is insufficient. We must be stirred up to seek the Lord with our whole heart. This comes from a sense of need, that unless the Lord helps us, we are helpless and hopeless, that we must have his help: no other helper, no other help. All right prayer is born of this fervent desire; the more we are oppressed by wicked men and vexed by our own sinfulness, the more ardently we call upon the Lord. We see this in our Savior. As earnest as were his initial pleas in the Garden, seeing as he did the awful cup of divine judgment and wrath before him, they were as nothing – though even at the first his fervor was so intense that he had to be strengthened by angels lest he expire – in comparison with the intensity he prayed the second time (Luke 22:44). Then, his pleas and tears were mingled with sweat and blood, so great was his distress and his “sorrow unto death.” While none of us will ever face such an hour of need as he did for us, he nonetheless left us this example: that our eyes must fail with longing for God’s salvation so much so that we are stirred to seek him with earnestness. If we do not, we do not feel our need as we should. We do not hunger and thirst after righteousness with a measure befitting the battle before us and the sinfulness of our own hearts. We do not desire God himself as we should. Such prayer cannot spring from cold, worldly, distracted hearts. Such prayer flows from love for God and a servant-commitment to be faithful to the death, combined with the honest realization that “in me dwelleth no good thing.” We must have God for our helper, our salvation, or we shall fail, sin, and fall.

Let the church of Jesus Christ be in earnest seeking such a praying spirit, and God will surely deliver us. His kingdom will be built. Satan’s kingdom, crumbling as it already is, will fall all the more. The church will be holy in heart and conduct. While our Father is not at all stingy with his blessings – his goodness, love, and faithfulness – he satisfies our soul with fresh supplies of his mercies when we seek him with our whole heart. He delights in showing good to us, but he will have us know from whence our salvation comes. How often does he answer a pathetic prayer of ours out of his sheer mercy to us in Christ? But then we move ahead with slight praise and scant thanks, thinking somehow that a moment or two, even an hour or two, of prayer is sufficient to defeat Satan, conquer sin, and obtain his glorious promises. Since we see the battle for Christ’s church and kingdom raging, feel our own weakness and worldliness, and see so little of hungering for righteousness in our lives, should we not be utterly convicted of our cold hearts, confess our ingratitude for being so little moved by his promises and the hope of his goodness, and seek the illumination of the Spirit that we may pray aright, pray fervently, and pray perseveringly? Longing for his salvation, for him to act to deliver us, preserve us, and help us, produces the sort of plea we see David making here. It arises as incense of heaven, where our Father owns it as his own aroma wafting back into his presence, then gathers our prayers and throws them back on the earth in the form of deliverances for his people and judgments upon the wicked (Rev. 8:3-5).

At the same time, we are not as the priests of Baal, who thought they would be heard for their violent and perverse demonstrations (1 Kings 18:28). Nor are we heard for our much speaking (Matt. 6:7). By adding, “for the word of thy righteousness,” David reminds us that all our hope of being heard, of being delivered from oppressions, of having God himself come to our defense and relief comes from his infallible promises. Being servants of God and committed to his word, we believe nothing to be more certain or more righteous than for God to fulfill his promises to us. He has sworn. His mercy and goodness are pledged. They are sealed with the blood of “the Holy One, and the Just” (Acts 3:14), who has made full atonement for our sins and brought in his everlasting righteousness by his obedience and sufferings. Hence, when our zeal fails – and not one of us is ever as fervent as he should be in calling upon the Lord – let us cling to the righteousness of God’s word. His promises cannot fail (2 Cor. 1:20). When we are not as engaged as we should be in defending God’s truth and honor , feeling our slowness in serving such a kind and loving Master – who, glory of glories, calls us his friends (John 15:15) and sons (1 John 3:1)! – let us know that it is “righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble us” (2 Thess. 1:6). Our immovable hope, the thought that floods the soul with light in the darkest place, is that “God is holy” (Ps. 22:3). Even on the cross, this was our Savior’s faith: that his Father was righteous. Being righteousness itself, he would receive the perfect sacrifice of his Son. His elect would be saved and secured. He would rise again, by his Father’s righteous promise, and rule over the heathen, gather his church unto himself, meet with her, preach to her, and sing with her. He went to the cross trusting the righteousness of God’s word. This was his plea: for his Father to fulfill all that he had written, all he had promised. Is our hope any less? We are joined to our Head; his hope is our hope, his confidence ours. The same word of righteousness that sustained him is more than able to make us steadfast in serving God. Yet, we must desire it above all. We must be willing to suffer for it. All other loves must be left behind. Our Father’s promised salvation calls to us in our distress; his righteous word is the polestar of our faith when it is besieged and tested beyond all hope of deliverance or endurance. He will come to our aid when we call upon him and plead as his adoring servants for his promised relief from oppression.

For Mercy and Understanding (vv. 124-125)

If we are to be God’s servants, our foremost plea must be for him to extend his mercy to us. Would we serve him, take his covenant word upon our lips, and enlist in his cause? Who among us can “dwell with the everlasting burnings” of God’s glory and majesty (Isa. 33:14)? Do we honestly think that we can bear our Savior’s cross, turn the other cheek, as he did, or make our only boast in him? This is wholly beyond us. So many today think that becoming a Christian is simply a personal religious decision, a little fire insurance, a few outward observances. How we trifle with the living God! He is the fearsome God, glorious in praises, doing wonders! He does not keep counsel with any but himself. Of him, to him, and for him are all things (Rom. 11:36). He dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16). And the glory of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, is no less than that of the Father (John 17:5). Even in the days of his flesh when he emptied himself of the outward manifestations of his glory (Phil. 2:7), his enemies quailed before his words, could not touch him except at his own bidding, and fell back as dead men before the slightest revelation of his glory (John 7:45; 8:20; 18:6). And we would serve this God and Savior? Our only hope is his mercy, his sworn, covenanted love for us. As righteous as David was in comparison to his enemies, even truly holy before God by the indwelling of the Spirit, he was conscious of corruption within him and unworthiness. Before God, he pled only for undeserved favor. And how wondrous is this favor! Our Father has given us his own name (Matt. 28:19), adopted us as his sons and daughters (Eph. 1:5), raised up such miserable sinners to be kings and queens in his Son (Eph. 2:6), and even calls us his friends (John 15:15). Has he left anything undone that would testify more to his great love for us? That he invites us to call him “Father,” devote ourselves to his service, and have confidence in his continued mercy and good will toward us? Even so, this must be our plea: “Father, I desire to serve you; none is like unto you, O King of the saints! Who would not fear you and honor hour name? You have been so kind to me, so patient and longsuffering, so good. I would count all else loss but to know and serve you. But when I contemplate serving you, there is so much filth in me. My goodness is like the morning dew. There is no steadfastness in me. When I would pray, I fall asleep. When I would meditate in your law day and night, a thousand worthless trifles steal into my heart and mind. Help me, my Savior! Deliver me! If I am to serve you, you must uphold me by your love, encourage me by your goodness, and strengthen me by your mighty power. I must have your mercy. I have no other claim upon it than your promise to sinners who look to you. I cannot forsake my sins unless you are merciful to me. I cannot work in my calling for your pleasure unless you uphold me. I cannot be a faithful husband or wife, son or daughter, mother or father, pastor, elder, or deacon unless you show undeserved kindness to me continually. I fall upon your mercy and your promises. I would be your humbled servant, but you must make of me what you want me to be, for I am all uncleanness.”

Thus humbled, so that we are truly poor in spirit and mourn over our sins, we feel ourselves to be in as much need of his guidance as we do of his mercy. Like Paul struck down then raised up on the Damascus road, our first plea is: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do” (Acts 9:6)? Is this not a most striking illustration that the evidence we have received mercy from the Lord is the desire to be led by him, to do his bidding? Paul knew little else at this point other than that Jesus Christ was the eternal Son of God and Savior of sinners. This regenerating light immediately brought with it the first rising of the Spirit’s presence: “Lord, teach me – your statutes, your testimonies. Give me understanding. Be my teacher. What little spark of your glory I have seen has convinced my heart that in myself I am absolutely wayward, like a child unable to govern or guide himself, like a blind man, indeed, like a dead man. You must undertake to be my guide.” When the Son of God rises in our heart with healing in his wings, he heals our broken wills – broken on the rocky shoals of self, stubbornness, and rebellion. He subdues us to himself. He begins to make our will to do his will, our meat to be his pleasure, our delight to be his word. And as we think about serving God, is it not compelling that David does not begin looking in the sky for visions, searching his own heart for understanding, or consulting others for good advice. He is led by God’s Spirit to plead to be taught God’s word, to understand his testimonies. This alone makes us servants of God – turning from our own ideas and way, we are devoted to God’s word. Instead of desiring to have Jesus Christ on our own terms, baptizing our willfulness with trite, silly moralisms or “I love Jesus” – while we are really in love with doing our own thing – we enroll ourselves in his school. We desire our Master to take us in hand and teach us his word so that we might obey it, serve him, and bear his cross. O, how we need, yea, how the entire church needs, for the Lord to pour out upon us such a spirit of supplication! We are so willful. We have tried for a long time now to have our Jesus and our own way. How little we know of: “Not my will, but thine be done!” We call ourselves his servants, but we do not do the things that he says (Luke 6:46) – in everything from our private lives, enslavement to entertainment, laziness in calling upon him, refusal to submit to him in those areas where his claims press strongest upon us. Would we know the joy of being his servants – and there is no higher joy than for a faithful servant to contemplate hearing his Master’s voice: “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21,23)? Would we have him defend us because we are fully enlisted in his corps? Would we have our Father smile upon us because we are cheerfully bearing the cross of his Beloved? There is no other way than: “Teach me thy statutes.” To be devoted to God is to be devoted to his word. May the Lord give us the pleasure of being his faithful servants, of desiring to be led by him! Then, we may count upon his protection – remember the roll of those who served God and enjoyed his protection and deliverance – Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Tyndale, Calvin, Luther, and the innumerable company of martyrs. The living God always protects his own, for they are devoted to his will. O, may that be us! There is no greater joy than to walk with the living God and his Son, Jesus Christ, calling him Master and Lord, doing what he says, and delighting in serving him.

When Men Violate God’s Word (vv. 126-128)

Ah, but if we would be God’s servants, there is a longing that he causes to lodge immovably within our soul. It is for his honor, praise, and majesty. Our Father takes no servants outwardly under his banner that he does not inwardly renew and seal by his Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). He puts his own life within us; John calls it “his seed,” a new nature and heart (1 John 3:9). Peter describes it as an “incorruptible seed,” even the very word of his lips (1 Pet. 2:23). This new life within us, indeed, “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27), yearns for God to be glorified, his word to be honored. It does not seek deliverance from oppression so that it can continue on its blissful way: undisturbed, sleepy in its dreams of life without responsibility, God without warfare. We do not find David here asking for deliverance so that he can pursue his own convenience and ease. He is far more concerned with the honor and authority of God than with his own peace in the world. When he considers his oppressors, he feels deeply that he is suffering, yes, but even more that God is being ignored, his word despised. Thus, as God’s servant, he pleads for something far higher than his own deliverance. He asks the Lord to “lift himself up,” to work, because men have “made void” his law. They have violated and broken his commandments. They have done all within their power to make it ineffectual, to frustrate God’s promises and overturn his purposes. As mighty in war as David was, he could not fight the “principalities and powers,” the prince of darkness, behind the schemes and wickedness of ungodly men. As God’s servant, he does the only thing he can do: he calls upon God to defend his own name and word, to work against the wickedness of men, and to glorify his own name by reasserting the authority of his word.

Now, if David felt this way, should we not be animated with the zeal at least of a loyal dog whose master has been attacked, bloodied, and left for dead? It is pointless to speak of the efforts of professing unbelievers to nullify the authority of God and of his Christ. They serve their master, the devil, and his cravings they fulfill (John 8:44). All their vain imaginations and evil plots would be bad enough, just cause for each of us to be roused to action to defend the honor of God, call upon the Lord to act to defend his own covenant and kingdom, and labor within our callings and spheres of influence to stand for his truth. Yet, when we see God’s professing friends – here, the litany of our crimes rises as a stench into the heavens – handling God’s word with critical contempt, combining it with pagan philosophies, histories, and anthropologies, rejecting it in favor of the findings of pseudo-science, and generally backpedalling at every hand from wolves that have invaded the fold of God, should not our hair stand up on the back of our necks! Even in more conservative circles, God’s word is rendered null and void by our silly ethic of “follow the Spirit,” “do not judge anyone,” and “sincerity is the test of acceptability with God.” This does not even touch upon all the worship abuses, the betrayal of the trust of apostolic doctrine handed down to us from our fathers, often stained with their blood and always with their vigilance and industry, and the synthesis with the world spirit we see in everything from so-called Christian public involvement to education. The church has fueled the fires of the city of man’s rebellion against God. What is needed is no new movement created by men but for each believer to seek from the Lord the spirit of this verse: “Lord, please forgive me that I have not loved your honor, your truth, and your church. I desire to be your servant again. But Lord, it seems the ungodly are having all their own way. Please work; defend your Son, his cross and crown, his covenant and church. Lift yourself up and show the nations that they are but men and that you are the most high God over all the earth (Ps. 9:20). Give me zeal for your honor and word that I might speak your truth in love – without embarrassment, reservation, or fear. I am your servant; I desire to be committed to your truth.” Such prayers need to rise up from every section of the true church, for we cannot call ourselves God’s servants if our spirits are not piqued with fiery zeal for the honor and name of God. Too many of us have simply accepted life in this sub-pagan, i.e., secular, culture, thinking there is nothing we can do but grit our teeth and bear it. No, like David, we must plead for God to work. He will. It is not so much that he is waiting upon us to pray or cannot work apart from us, but he has so joined his name, word, and even his honor to his church that he wants us to feel the reproaches of men so that we will call upon him. He will make us feel oppressed so that desire for his glory will rise again in our souls. There can be no doubt that this is one of his chief purposes for allowing the wicked to prosper, both within and without the church – so that his true people, feeling our helplessness and weakness, will be roused to humble ourselves before him, like Daniel confess our sins, and call upon him to defend his name and honor. He is doing some of this already, for the shaking of the city of man must be attributed in some measure to the prayers of the faithful remnant in this land, their zeal for his word, and their desire to serve God, whatever the cost.

Though prayers of the sort we find here are so vital and necessary that their absence must be considered presumptive evidence of sleeping disciples who have allowed their lamps to go dry, God’s servants have more responsibility than prayer. The more we see God’s word despised, the more we are to love it, esteeming it above all the gold and silver in the world (v. 127). The finest riches must be as nothing to us in comparison to the regard we have for God’s word. This is more than pious sentiment. Love for God’s word of this nature cannot exist without a heart humbled before God himself. We will never love his voice, his will, unless we love him, unless we esteem being his humble servants our greatest privilege. How warmly and strongly David’s heart beat for God’s word. And yet, he lived in the midst of oppression. Such times offer great temptation to us to lose regard and zeal for the honor of God’s word. Many do. Our race’s herd mentality is nowhere more evident than in our tendency to race away from God’s word. The masses may be plunging to temporal ruin and eternal ruin, yet since so many are leaping off the cliff, few hold back. The majority cannot be wrong. Yet, we must possess our souls in patience. We must come to God’s word continually, for it alone will sustain us. We must draw near to our Maker and Redeemer, for he alone can hold us back from taking the broad road, upon which much company may be found. It is not easy to stand relatively alone, but our Master will make us stand if we are devoted to him, pour out our hearts to him, and earnestly seek to please him in all things (Rom. 14:4). Are you seeking the only One who can preserve you from the oppression of men, which sometimes takes such a deceptive form that we feel it mainly in our “righteous soul” (2 Pet. 2:7)? Are you meditating upon his word? You will pray as David did only by giving yourself to God’s righteous word, panting after his goodness, and delighting in serving him even if the whole world is running stubbornly after the devil.

And to show that our commitment to God’s word must be deeply personal, David not only says that he considers all God’s precepts in all things to be right, but that he “hates ever false way” (v. 128). “All thy precepts” means that we are devoted to obeying God in small and large things (Matt. 23:23). Nothing that might please his master escapes the notice of the devoted servant. If this is true at a human level, how much more must it be true of those who claim to know and love the Son of God and Savior of sinners? Is there any length to which we would not go to please him? In the light of his great love for us, do we consider any obedience or hardship we might undergo in serving him a sacrifice? No, we confess: “We have never made a sacrifice.” All has been love. It is a delight to serve him. My days are too short, my strength too feeble, my zeal to cold in serving the Lamb of God. Let this thought dominate you as you fight against the sins of your heart, face domestic troubles, and bear the reproaches of Christ in the world. The more the world rages against my precious Savior, the more I shall devote myself to him. Therefore, I hate every false way – especially those in my own heart. Yes, I hate the false ways of wicked oppressors, Satan’s intrigues, and the efforts of ungodly men to create suspicion and disinterest in God’s word. I cannot deal with all of these, however, nor am I called to do so. There is an enemy closer to home, an oppression that I feel more deeply than anything the world can throw at me. It is the falseness still in my own heart. I would be his servant, yet I find myself lazy. I would love my Master, yet I find another law in my members – how I need to pray to be enlightened by God’s Spirit so that I may be able to comprehend something of the height, width, breadth, and depth of his love (Eph. 3:18-19). I need for you, Lord Jesus, to root out of me all that offends you, all that hinders my enjoyment of you, all that prevents my more cheerful, willful, and diligent service to you. I want to walk with you, speak of you naturally and winsomely, defend your honor without pride or vengefulness. I want to turn the other cheek in your name, give a cup of cold water in your name, go the extra mile in your name. All this, but again, closer to home: “Lord, please show your mercy to me that I may be a more sacrificial husband and father, giving off to my family your very fragrance. How I want to be a wife, Lord that looks like your church, a young adult that does not think rebellion a rite of passage, an employee that serves my hard boss as I would you. I need for you to lead me in the paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. Make me your servant. I know I am your friend by redemption, your brother by adoption, your queen by resurrection. Yet, how I long for you to increase while I decrease, recede into the background, pleased simply to take the lowest seat at the feast, as long as you are there, as long as you will smile at me, as long as I can be with you where you are. Lord, be merciful to me and teach me.” This is the servant’s plea.