Richard Griffiths, a retired pastor writing for Ellel Ministries International (which then had the article reprinted by Seeds of the Kingdom Ministries which is where our own Ken Bender read it), authored a devotional entitled “Magnetic Attraction”. This article is timely as we continue in the 40 Days of Prayer for 2023. Below is the article:
Bend my heart towards your instructions and not towards selfish gain. (Psalm 119:36)
If you’ve got a compass and a map, and know how to use them, you won’t get lost, however foggy it gets. Your compass will always point to magnetic north. Your map will show you the direction of magnetic north. Just line them up, and away you go. But if there’s something made of iron or steel that’s close to your compass, it’ll pull it away from the earth’s magnetic field. It won’t point north anymore, and you’ll go astray.
Our heart is like the compass. One way or another, we always tend to follow our hearts. That’s where are desires are, where our feelings are, and where we work things out and make decisions. But our hearts are so easily influenced by the ‘magnetic attraction’ of things other than the will of God.
David realises that his heart could take him in either of two directions: God’s instructions (His map for our lives), or selfish gain. The Hebrew word translated here as ‘selfish gain’ can be (and is) rendered is many different ways in our English Bibles. ‘Turn my heart towards what pleases You rather than what I can get out of it’ probably gets closest to the meaning.
We all have hearts that are so readily bent towards ‘selfish gain’ – what pleases me rather than what pleases Him. After the Flood, God accepted that ‘every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood’ (Genesis 7:21). In Romans 7, Paul wrestles with the reality that ‘in my mind I am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin’ (Romans 7:25). There’s a magnetic pull which so easily bends our hearts towards what we want and away from what pleases God.
A compass needle is completely passive. It just reacts to the strongest magnetic field. Close to something made of iron or steel, it won’t point north anymore. The fact that we are all weak when it comes to battling against the carnal nature doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that we can do about it. The closer we are to God, and the more we keep away from what leads us away from Him, the more our heart will bend towards what pleases Him.
A damaged compass needle may lose its magnetic strength. It will need to be re-magnetised. Our hearts may get damaged through sin and through the knocks of life. They may need to be made more sensitive to what God wants – to be ‘bent towards His instructions’ through confession, repentance, coming back to Him and letting Him be Lord of all.
How about making the prayer below (Psalm 139:23-24, in The Message translation) yours today? “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; see for Yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life. Amen.