Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. (Psalm 32:9)
The warning given to us by the Spirit of God in today’s verse also offers a wonderful word of encouragement. We are admonished not to be like the beasts of the field, which must be controlled, coerced, and corrected by the bit and the bridle. The horse and the mule respond obediently to their master only because of the restraints that have been placed on them. But as Christian believers, we are to render obedience to our Master—not because we have been restrained, but rather because our new and growing understanding freely responds with thanksgiving to all our Master has done for us—and will do for us in the future.
Before we were saved, we were like the brute beasts of the field. We were wild like the horse and obstinate like the mule. We were ruled by the appetites of the flesh and driven to satisfy self in every possible way. But when God in Christ gives us the gift of salvation and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, our new nature leads to a new understanding, which leads to new desires. We desire to live for our Savior rather than self; we desire to satisfy the will of God rather than our own will; we desire to expand the kingdom of God rather than our own little kingdom of one. Understanding now guides us into God’s perfect purpose for our lives. We are the bride of Christ, and we will one day stand before Him in glorious, spotless wedding clothes.
The horse and the mule are forced to accomplish the will of their master and guided by the bit and the bridle to go in the direction the master desires. But the disciple of Jesus does His will out of devotion, not duty, and the guiding principle is love. As new creatures in Christ, our hearts begin beating for nothing smaller than Jesus. We no longer resist His instruction, as we once did, but instead we respond with a sense of newfound freedom and joy that leads ultimately to living a life of faithfulness. This certainly doesn’t mean we will live a life of perfect obedience! That won’t happen until we are received into glory. What it does mean is that we will live with the desire of pleasing our Lord perfectly, even as we live it out imperfectly.
The duty of every believer is obedience. But the more our understanding of who God is and what He has done and is doing for us grows, the more this duty becomes a delight.
So . . . are you growing in your understanding of your redemption and all your Redeemer accomplished on your behalf? Have you been adding knowledge to your faith since your conversion? Have you been living in the shadow of the cross—not only daily, but moment by moment? Make no mistake, the believers “bit and bridal” is a growing understanding of what it means at the deepest level to be unconditionally loved and completely forgiven, and because of that love, we strive to live in such a way that we will one day hear our Bridegroom say warmly, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!