Reading Time: 5 Minutes
Prayer is the most vital link people have to enjoy a personal relationship with God. The entire scope of salvation history was designed to allow people like you and me to have access to a friendship relationship with God.
John pictures two important sides to our relationship with God. He was familiar enough with Jesus to lean close to him and whisper in his ear about important matters (John 12.23-25). At another time, when John saw Jesus in his full glory, he wrote, “When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like a dead man” (Revelation 1.17).
Even though God’s grace grants us a friendship relationship with him, his awesome nature requires a certain level of preparation. That is why the speaker in Psalm 15 began his prayer like this:
Lord, who may enter your Temple?
Who may worship on Zion, your sacred hill? (Psalm 15.1)
The Question Answered
The remaining verses of Psalm 15 answer the question. What sort of life is qualified to live as a friend of God?
2 Those who obey God in everything
and always do what is right,
whose words are true and sincere,
3 and who do not slander others.
They do no wrong to their friends
nor spread rumors about their neighbors.
4 They despise those whom God rejects,
but honor those who obey the Lord.
They always do what they promise,
no matter how much it may cost.
5 They make loans without charging interest
and cannot be bribed to testify against the innocent.
Whoever does these things will always be secure. (Psalm 15.2-5)
Just as God gave his people the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), the speaker described ten kinds of behavior that people should consider when approaching God.
Five of the answers are positive. The behavior of these “God-approved” people is described like this:
(1) They obey God in everything (Verse 2).
(2) They always do what is right (Verse 2).
(3) Their words are true and sincere (Verse 2).
(4) They despise people whom God rejects (Verse 4).
(5) They always do what they promise (Verse 4).
The five kinds of behavior that they don’t do involve these acts:
(1) They don’t slander people (Verse 3).
(2) They don’t do other people wrong (Verse 3).
(3) They don’t spread rumors about other people (Verse 3).
(4) They don’t charge interest on a loan, when it is given to help another person (Verse 5).
(5) They can’t be bribed to hurt an innocent person (Verse 5).
A Transforming Friendship
I read a very powerful book by James Houston many years ago. The title was “The Transforming Friendship.” If you are like me, the ten behavior characteristics of the person who is admitted to God’s presence is quite challenging. Dr. Houston helped me think through my dilemma.
No one comes to God as a “finished product.” We all have character flaws. If we let our bad behavior keep us from coming to God, we will never experience God and neither will we become different people.
In his book, Houston encourages people to come to God through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. As we deepen our friendship with God, the Holy Spirit will begin transforming our character. By entering into God’s presence, our behavior will begin to reflect the ten statements of Psalm 15.
I often view Jesus as the best counselor anyone could have. As a great counselor, he will extend to us what the profession calls “unconditional positive regard.” He will love us and accept us just as we are. He is completely approachable.
However, as the greatest counselor of all, he will not hold back from confronting any behavior that is limiting our lives. He will challenge us to become the best person we can be.
My encouragement to us all is to not let our character flaws and bad behavior keep us from living in a friendship relationship with God. As we meet with him, he will transform us.
Please be careful with what I have just written. The man who said, “God and I have a deal. He likes to forgive and I like to sin,” had it completely wrong.
If we use the message of grace and forgiveness as a way to continue with bad behavior, we will be guilty of hypocrisy and personal deception. Grace is meant to lead us to God, not to keep us distant from him.
Just as the program of Alcoholics Anonymous recommends taking a personal inventory, we can use this short Psalm as a guide to our own spiritual inventory.
May We Pray for You
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook if you have something you want us to pray for. I will pray for you and ask the prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church to pray for you, too.