“You will prolong the king’s life; His years will be as many generations. He will abide before God forever; Appoint lovingkindness and truth that they may preserve him.”
Psalms 61:6-7 NASB1995
This verse speaks of two “preservatives” for our spiritual lives: lovingkindness and truth. What I take this to mean is, if I want to remain fresh, and if I want to grow in Christ, lovingkindness and truth must both be present in my life.
As I’ve walked with the Lord, I’ve noticed the tendency to emphasize truth, and put it in the foreground, even above lovingkindness. We can think that, as long as we are growing in Bible knowledge, we are growing spiritually.
And certainly, this is important.
But the Lord is asking, “Are you growing in lovingkindness, too? Is ‘grace poured forth from your lips’ (Psalm 45:2)? Is ‘your gentle spirit known to all men’ (Philippians 4:5)? Are you ‘merciful, just as your Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36)?”
If we aren’t growing in lovingkindness — goodness, mercy, grace, gentleness — then we aren’t really growing, no matter how much of the truth we are learning!
To grow in Christ, both grace and truth must be our aim, just as Jesus Himself was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). If we want to be preserved and grow properly, we’ve got to attend to both of these things.
Examine What You Look At
One of the key differences between Jesus and the Pharisees (regarded by the people as the “spiritual giants” of the day) was that the Pharisees had emphasized “the truth” to the neglect of lovingkindness.
Many times, Jesus rebuked them with words like “… go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).
A judgmental spirit is the mark of the “truth seeker” who neglects lovingkindness. There’s a remarkable example of this imbalance in Mark 7.
“The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with unwashed hands...”
Mark 7:1-2 NASB1995
It’s fascinating to realize that, of all the things they could have seen, this is what the Pharisees saw.
Mind you, in the previous chapter alone (Mark 6), we are told that these disciples were “casting out many demons and healing many sick people” (6:13); we are told that Jesus miraculously fed thousands with five loaves and two fish (6:41-44); we are told Jesus walked on the water (6:48) and calmed the raging sea (6:51); we are told that anyone who touched “the fringe of His cloak… were being cured” (6:56).
In the midst of all this, the Pharisees come to town. And this is what the Pharisees saw: they saw that some — not even all, as a rule of disobedience among these disciples, but some — of His disciples were eating with unwashed hands.
They missed the glory of God completely!
What a warning to the Pharisee in me, that we can learn of a great movement of God, and go to examine it, and simply come away with a list of things that are going wrong. That we cannot profit at all by the presence of God in our midst.
When our god is a rule book and task master and critical of others, we can know for sure we are in danger. As we’ve heard, “we become like the god we serve.”
“He *said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow?”
Luke 19:22 NASB1995
The unfaithful, lazy servant who failed to deliver to his master sufficient return was hindered by a deficient knowledge of God, in truth. To avoid the same fate — the fate of the Pharisees — we have to know God in truth. And God is “abundant in lovingkindness” (Psalm 86:5).
Let us seek to grow in both lovingkindness and truth, “for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9).