We tend to individualize the Christian life. At least, in Western cultures we see our faith as a very personal thing between ourselves and the Lord alone. Yet Scripture presents a very different picture. The next stanza of Psalm 119 testifies to this fact (vv. 73-80). Every single verse of this section describes some aspect of the Psalmist’s personal relationship with God. He acknowledges the Lord created him (v. 73). He hopes in God’s Word (v. 74 ESV). He testifies to the Lord’s “faithfulness” (v. 75). The list goes on. But woven into this list are the following words—
“May those who fear You see me and be glad, because I wait for Your word.
May those who fear You turn to me, even those who know Your testimonies.” (vv. 74, 79)
These verses may not seem all that significant by themselves, but consider them in their context. Twice in a short passage describing his relationship with the Lord, the Psalmist prays about his relationship with others. More specifically, he is praying about his relationship to other faithful members of God’s family.
In verse 74, he is choosing to live consistently before others. He clings to God’s Word, and that has an effect upon his behavior. It doesn’t just shape his private life. As a result, other faithful Jews are encouraged and moved to praise the Lord. His life was a testimony and an encouragement to the faithful.
However, the Psalmist was facing proud men who were trying to turn others against him (v. 78). In response, he does two things. First, he meditates on God’s Word (v. 78b). He doesn’t strike back. He doesn’t seek vengeance. He leaves it in God’s hands and fixes his mind on the Lord.
The second thing he does is pray for godly relationships. But why does he do this? If he found himself without friends (by no fault of his own), wouldn’t it just be easier to stay by himself. Easier—perhaps. Yet the truth is that we need one another to truly grow up into Christ. Ephesians 4:1-16 says that to reach the goal of Christian maturity, it takes “the saints” working together, serving one another, “building up” one another (vv. 12, 13). The Thessalonians had their problems, and Paul called the individual members of the church to “admonish,” “encourage,” “help,” and “be patient with” each other (1 Thessalonians 5:14). There is only one New Testament passage that specifically commands us to meet together, and we are told to gather for the purpose of “encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24, 25). WE could go on and on, but these provide a good sample. The community of believers is essential for our growth in Christ. Even when it is difficult (like in Corinth), we still need one another.
We could spend so much time on this subject, but here’s the point: we need one another to fully grow mature in Christ. That’s why the Psalmist didn’t throw his hands up and say, “Oh, well. I guess I’ll have to do this alone.” Others were trying to isolate him, but he prayed for faithful friends. He didn’t want mere acquaintances who would mouth platitudes. He wanted deep, committed relationships with people who would help him grow in the Lord. When we look back at verse 74, we can see how he would also encourage his godly friends in their own walk. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
And the same is true for us. We need spiritual brothers and sisters as we seek to grow up into Christ. We are in a personal relationship with God, yes, but He chooses to use other Christians to help us grow in that relationship.