A friend of mine challenged those of us in our small discipleship group to read through Psalm 119 each week for a month. To be honest, Psalms are really not my favorite – I like facts and information, rather than poetry. But, there was no good reason not to accept the challenge, so I started reading about 3 sections (stanzas) of that Psalm per day.
Well into the body of Psalm 119, the following verse caught my attention:
My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.
Psalms 119:139 NASB
While we may not call them adversaries (see Who Is My Enemy?), have those around us forgotten God’s words? There are two categories of people we can consider, here:
- The first group would be those who haven’t forgotten, so much as they just haven’t heard the good news. These people may not be those spoken about in Psalm 119, but Romans 10:14-15 reminds us of the importance of “getting the Word out”, so to speak, whether we are the ones who tell others directly, or the ones who support those who are preaching the good news. While I believe that we are all called to be prepared to tell others about Jesus, sometimes we just take someone who needs to hear, and put him or her in contact with another Christian who can explain God’s Word in more detail. That might mean bringing a friend to church, or sharing a podcast or book.
- The second group includes those who know better, but have wandered away. Maybe they let pride or greed get in the way (as many of Jesus’ opponents seemed to be afflicted with). Maybe the distractions of life just choked out the truth that was originally growing in these individuals’ hearts. The parable of the sower (or the parable of the soils, as some also call it) in Matthew 13:1-8 (and explained later in that same chapter) illustrates multiple examples of how the same message has different results, depending on who hears it. Galatians 6:1-3 (see below) gives us some direction for what to do in this situation, and I think that the New Living Translation is especially understandable, here:
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
Galatians 6:1-3 NLT
In addition, have we forgotten God’s words? In our busy worlds, other voices can crowd out God’s, and distractions pull us away from spending time in God’s Word. Like the old story of the two wolves, the obvious solution is the simple one: feed yourself with (i.e., fill up on) the words of the One you want to follow.
Of course, spending more time reading the Bible, and listening to those who are following God’s leading, are both means towards this end. However, there is another element, which is to give some focused attention to God’s word. In addition to reading more of the Bible (which is important, but – by itself – can sometimes cause us to absorb it only at a surface level), it’s also important to spend some time really thinking about passages of the Bible. Some may call this meditation, but if that word sounds too fancy, just resolve to think about, process, and try to understand a few passages of the Bible this week. Ask God to help you comprehend what you are reading. (Don’t be afraid to read or listen to what others have to say, but always filter them against God’s Word and His guidance in your heart. You wouldn’t be the first to ask for help – see Acts 8:30-31.)
In this case, I think that the Psalms offer us some great reminders. Consider meditating on Psalm 119 (maybe one portion at a time) if you don’t have another passage of the Bible that God is currently directing you to. The first three stanzas are a great read on this very subject, including – but not limited to – verse 15:
I will study your commandments
and reflect on your ways.
Psalms 119:15 NLT
If I – thanks to my friend who challenged me to read one of them for a month – can overcome the temptation to sometimes skip over the Psalms and “forget” them, I hope that you can keep from becoming someone who has forgotten God’s words, too.