November 27, 2011
Aspiring To Be Acceptable
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
The prospect of being acceptable to God can act upon us with great force. But if we wish the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart to be acceptable to God, we must redefine what is acceptable to us. We must learn to love the same things that God loves, conforming ourselves to God’s character.
The lives we end up with are determined, to a large extent, by the things for which we aim. For this reason, the things we aim for should be carefully considered. Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11). Isn't this the great goal that should entice us and attract our minds? Isn't learning to “approve the things that are excellent” the key to all the other progress we wish to make?
To approve the things that are excellent, our minds must be trained to recognize the excellence of those things that are excellent by God's standards. So Paul says that we must grow “in knowledge and all discernment.” Just as an art critic must learn how to recognize artistic greatness when he sees it, we must learn how to recognize the greatness of that which is morally and spiritually excellent when we come in contact with it. Day by day, our judgment must come to coincide more closely with God's, so that the things we approve of are the same things that God approves of. Spiritually speaking, our tastes must be refined.
David did not discover a way of life that was acceptable to God without learning to think in ways that were acceptable to God. And neither will we make much progress in our spiritual quest if we don't send our standards of acceptability to God’s school of excellence. May our very meditations be acceptable in God's sight!
“Grant me grace, O merciful God, to desire ardently all that is pleasing to thee, to examine it prudently, to acknowledge it truthfully, and to accomplish it perfectly, for the praise and glory of thy name. Amen” (Thomas Aquinas).