Journal Entry // July 17, 2022
Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. (ESV)1 Samuel 12:24
This is the charge that Samuel gave to Saul and the people as he installed Saul as king of Israel. This is Samuel’s instruction for them to stay in the good and right way. And what is this instruction from Samuel? Single-minded devotion to the Lord and his commandments. There is no room in this life for the double-mindedness of a wayward heart. Our hearts should be singularly focused on the Lord in every aspect and circumstance of life. Our single-minded devotion is characterized by a healthy holy fear of the Lord leading us to serve him with all our heart. Our motivation, our affection, our underlying heart engagement with every action we perform should be firmly grounded in a love for Christ.
Typically, I lose sight of this call to single-minded devotion to the Lord. I easily slip into a double-minded way of thinking. I want to section off parts of my life and label some as “spiritual” and some as “secular”. I want most of my life to be spiritual and wholly devoted and set apart for the Lord, but there is always this sense that I also want to compartmentalize certain aspects and keep them away from the requirements of fearing and serving the Lord faithfully. I want to label certain routines or entertainment as “secular” or a better label would be “personal”. Meaning I want to do things in this life that are just for me and should have no bearing on my walk with Christ which is a wholly separate and specific aspect of my life.
This is not the understanding that Samuel instructs Saul and the people to obey. It is also not the understanding that any other prophet or apostle instructed either. The Lord has always been clear that he required a single-minded devotion from his chosen people. I simply keep thinking that I can be single-minded in my devotion to the Lord but have these boxes of personal preference that are separate from this single-mindedness. I so easily deceive myself into thinking that I can give 100% of my heart to Jesus but hold back 2 or 3 areas. Jesus wants all of my heart. He wants every part of my life. He not only wants those actions and priorities that present themselves outwardly before the world, but he also wants my inward thoughts and desires. There are to be no hidden boxes kept separate from Jesus and solely for my own pleasure. All of me is to be single-minded in my love for Jesus.
Samuel then gives the stimulus for staying on the path of single-mindedness. The stimulus is to remember all the good and great things the Lord has done for me. I get so caught up in what I don’t have or what I don’t like about my current situation that I often neglect this aspect of loving Christ. I grumble and complain about what is missing, but I rarely take the time to consider and remember the great things God has already done for me in this life. It’s not for a lack of things to remember. It’s simply a lack of understanding and thankfulness. Considering and pondering the good and great things of God in my life will stimulate and confirm this single-minded devotion. As I consider these great things, two actions are stimulated: thankfulness and humbleness. Both of which are essential for my heart.
Lord Jesus, come into my heart and take those boxes that I have stored up on a shelf away from view and bring them out into the open light of your gaze. Lord, let me see the folly of trying to simulate control over areas that should be strictly devoted to you. Help me to lay bare my heart before you alone. Teach me to not hide my desires or thoughts, but to fully lay them before you. Teach me to see the falsehood of self-reliance and the weakness of my flesh. Enable me to speak openly and honestly with you about my inner heart. Lord, I want to be fully open and honest with you and with myself. Reveal that lingering sin that clings to me. Bring repentance to my soul. Increase my faith. Teach me to consider all the great and wonderful things you have done, are doing, and will do in my life. May my every breathe be filled with grace and mercy as it emulates my Savior.