People sometimes think that ‘the path of God’s commandments’ is restricting. And it is, in the sense that you need to keep to it. But keeping to it doesn’t make a person mean and narrow-minded. It’s the exact opposite. When we walk in obedience, God enlarges our hearts – we get more and more big-hearted. The Hebrew word for ‘enlarge’ means ‘make spacious’. It suggests something that is roomy, welcoming and generous. Jesus is the supreme example of such big-heartedness. You see it in His reaching out to lepers, His ‘eating with publicans and sinners’, His acceptance of the adulterous woman at the well (John 4) and His restoration of Peter (John 21), to name but a few. Among Christians, this generosity of spirit will result in making what unites us far more important than the doctrinal differences that so easily divide us.
As I was thinking about this verse, two things stood out for me. The first was that it is God who makes us big-hearted. ‘You will enlarge my heart’. The closer we are to Him, the more like Him we’ll become, because we’ll reflect Him more. ‘And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The second thing was that the key to this intimacy is obedience. The only thing that keeps us apart from God is sin, sinful attitudes as much as sinful actions. I love how David says that he’ll ‘run’ along the path of God’s commandments’. There’s nothing begrudging about his obedience. It’s full of enthusiasm and energy. He’ll stick to this path, because it is so worthwhile. It puts me in mind of Hebrews 12:1-2, which says, ‘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’.
What is it that will attract others to Jesus? Surely it is true generosity of heart! We don’t keep God’s commandments in order to impose them on others. That’ll only put them off. No, we ‘run along the path of God’s commandments’ so that He can give us the big-heartedness that reflects the wonderfully attractive character of Jesus.
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