LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the LORD;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved. ~Psalm 15
There is great debate that rages between works-based theology and salvation through grace. Often, the debate falls into the battle of extremes with the “everything goes” Christian on one side and the “afraid to do anything” Christian on the other. Paul speaks of letting your moderation be known to all men in Philippians 4:5; moderation here carries the connotation of gentleness and fairness. We should be balanced in everything save one–our love for the Lord Jesus. That love must be radical, fiery, and impassioned at all costs.
What David outlines in Psalm 15 is therefore not a list of requirements but a declaration of love. Why have clean hands and a pure heart? Because I love Him. Why treat my fellow man with kindness and respect? Because he is in His image. Why do I keep my promises, even when they all but destroy me? Because He kept His promise and did not spare His own son. This is perhaps the most important concept to me in the entire Psalm.
Deuteronomy 23:23 says, “That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.” As God’s holy people, we must be marked by the same faithfulness as Christ.
It troubles me how easily we make and break promises in our society–even little ones like, “Oh yeah, I’ll call you later” or “Let’s get together sometime” when we have no intention of doing so is a poor example of the faithfulness that Jesus demonstrated. We are to be a people who honor our Lord in word and in deed if we truly desire to be where He is and to know Him in the fullness of His holiness.
By now JD knows me well enough to know that if he asks me, “promise?” I will almost always say, “no.” And he affirms that. We believe that our yes should be yes and our no should be no in the little things as well as the big ones. If we establish a lifestyle of breaking our word in the small things, how can He trust us in the big ones?
The beauty of our promises to God, though, is that we have to fully rely on Him to give us the strength to fulfill what we have promised. We cannot remain passionate for Him or follow His leadership in our lives without Him giving us the grace to remain and the strength to endure. And, as in all things, He is so faithful to give that strength to us.