I’ve heard it said that the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, once gathered his team together at the beginning of the season, took a ball in his hands and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” His point was that his professional athletes should never forget the basics.
Sports are not the only areas of life that we are prone to forget the basics. We can also do it in our spiritual lives. In life’s busy demands and distractions, we need our attention drawn back to the basics.
For me, Psalm 86:11 is one of those Gentlemen-this-is-a-football type of Scriptures. It helps get my focus back on the basics. Listen to David’s prayer, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”
Three fundamentals of our walk with God stand out to me:
1) Learn. David humbly asks God to teach him. He longs to know the way of God. Yet, he knows that on his own he cannot know God’s way. He knows God’s ways are higher than his and that God’s thoughts are not his own (Is. 55:9). So, he beseeches God to teach him. He wants to learn the truth of God and His way. This is basic to his faith and ours. As disciples of Christ, we too, must be continual learners of our Master and God.
2) Live. Why did David want to learn the truth? Was it because he wanted to be a theological egg-head who could impress the people with his knowledge? Not at all! He tells us the reason: “that I may walk in your truth.” David wanted to learn the truth so that he could live the truth. He wanted to know the way of God, so that he could walk in that way. Knowledge without obedience is sinful. We need to learn the truth in order to live the truth.
3) Love. Notice David’s last request in the verse, “unite my heart to fear your name.” This is a petition motivated by love for God. David knew that his heart could be divided by competing loves and loyalties. So, he prays that God would “unite” his heart in order that his affection, devotion, direction, and adoration would be completely God-ward: “that I might fear your name.” David’s love for God was fundamental to his relationship with God.
If you are like me, you might find yourself returning to this passage from time to time just in order to be reminded of the basics; to recall the things that really matter. Namely, keep learning the truth in order to keep living the truth so that I may be growing in love with the Truth Giver.
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.