Speaking the Truth in Love

Restore My Soul

After committing adultery David felt defiled, empty, and dispirited. The king longed for spiritual renewal. He prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of thy salvation” (Ps. 51:10-12).

A guilty conscience isn’t the only thing that can leave a child of God feeling spiritually deflated. On the one hand, a disciple of Christ cannot expect to feel exuberant all the time. Emotions come and go. What must never waver is commitment. On the other hand, it’s possible to live and worship rather mechanically, doing nothing with joy and enthusiasm. If, like the Ephesians, we “have abandoned the love” we “had at first” (Rev. 2:4), the following steps may renew our hearts.

Admit the Problem. No one is open to spiritual renewal unless he acknowledges error in himself. David says, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (Ps. 51:3). He, of course, is thinking of his sexual impurity. But halfhearted service to God is equally distasteful to him. If I’m a lukewarm Christian, then Jesus charges me with being “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

Be Humble. In David’s prayer he says that “the sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17). Humility demands recognition of my complete inability to rekindle my own dying spiritual fire. Without God I can do nothing.

Passionately Seek Grace. David pleads: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Fill me with joy and gladness” (Ps. 51:7-8). These words evoke the imagery of an Old Testament cleansing ritual. But David isn’t speaking to a Levitical priest. The king longs for the Lord himself to administer the needed cleansing. Ultimately, God will answer David’s plea at the cross. The “sprinkled blood” of Jesus (Heb. 12:24) has the power to wash away all iniquities—including the sins of indifference, spiritual laziness, and lack of proper love.

Teach Others. David promises, “I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance” (Ps. 51:13-14). Nothing is more spiritually invigorating than bringing friends to Christ and sharing in their joy. Invite neighbors, coworkers, and relatives to worship. Talk about your need for Jesus and what he has done in your life.

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