Center of Everything

We all have bents—those things we find ourselves naturally thinking about or focusing on. For example, when someone says something that reminds me of a song, a lot of times it’s going to call to mind some bluegrass ballad or fiddle tune (my music playlist may be a little excessive). For others, they may have a bent toward a particular sport. Maybe their focus is on a particular job. Maybe it’s hanging out with friends. Regardless of what form the bents take, we all have things that capture our attention.

In Psalm 119, a particular point is made in the expression of a prayer:

“Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to dishonest gain. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways” (Psalm 119:36, 37).

In this short and direct prayer, the Psalmist presents a simple request. He prays to be so focused on God, everything else pales in comparison. Yes, the Psalmist still had to live here in this world as “a stranger,” but he knew this life was meaningless if he forgot the Lord (v. 19). Let’s dissect the prayer a little more.

In verse 36, the Psalmist wants his heart to be inclined to the Lord rather than “to dishonest gain.” He recognizes that we often twist things to profit ourselves. We want honor, we want possessions, we want feelings, etc. If we focus upon those things and chase after them, we will only find ourselves in darkness. The abundant life Jesus promised is only found in right relationship with Him (John 10:10). Not in doing enough good works, not in impressing others, not meeting any checklist—life is found in knowing Him (Matthew 7:22, 23).

And so, the Psalmist wants his heart to be set on that relationship, to be bent toward God. It’s like how Paul exhorts believers, “Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). Yes, we do have responsibilities on earth that we cannot neglect, and we are to be faithful as we walk through this world. Yet where is our mind fixed? What do we choose to “dwell on?” (Philippians 4:8).

This focus is further underscored in the following verse in Psalm 119, verse 37. The ESV presents a little clearer rendering: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” Again, we see here the element that fullness of life is found when we turn our minds and our hearts to Jesus. There are a lot of things we can pursue and chase after, things we can focus upon, but the truth is that they are worth nothing in terms of eternity. In heaven, it won’t matter what position in a company you achieved. Athletic trophies won’t be compared. We won’t even b holding up church attendance records.

Are those things bad? No, not at all. We should strive for excellence and be devoted to the church. Yet we cannot make those pursuits an idol—yes, even church involvement for its own sake can become an idol. By choosing to make Christ the highest priority in our lives, we are simply putting everything else back in its proper place. We’re not saying those things aren’t important—they just aren’t of ultimate importance.

So how do we put Christ back in the center and make Him the priority? Part of that is through prayer (verse 36). We fellowship with Him through prayer and seek to love Him ever more. Another aspect is through reading the Word, seeking to know Him better (the entire point of this Psalm). There’s meditation, sharing Him with others, making sacrifices of time and money to be obedient to the Spirit—the list goes on and on. Ther’s no real formula, but it begins with us desiring from the heart to know Him. That’s what being inclined toward Him is all about. It’s all about knowing Him in a deep, ongoing, personal relationship. He wants our hearts, and as we continue to yield ourselves to Him, we will be putting Him back in the center of everything.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s