In today's readings we find Psalm 37. The margin note in my bible reads "He [God] will not forsake his saints." I think it could be easily changed to "A paradigm for faithful living." Paradigm means a pattern, model or template. A paradigm for life would be simply a way to live, a pattern or template for living. Psalm 37 struck me as that this morning.
It contains warnings about a most common 'enemy' of life, for all of us. The Psalm starts with a warning not to worry about evildoers, not to be envious of them. We all know wrong that we would not do, that we would judge truly wrong and face no temptation regarding. But we also know wrong that we would secretly say of, 'I would do it if I would not get caught, or did not have a conscience. I wish I would do what they do.' The Psalmist says not to be envious of wrongdoers, and if we are honest, we fall into this. We should be honest with ourselves, admit the temptation and nip it.
The counter to it appears in the verses that follow the opening, at vv2-4. The Psalmist says to trust in LORD, do good, and he will act.
That 'trusting' and 'doing of good' are further unpacked at v5 and 7, where we read the instruction to commit your way to the LORD, to trust him, and be still before him.
Trust in God is a key element in the fight against sin, and for righteousness. I have read before that all sin is really a belief that greater delight is in the sin and not God. Sin is at its core a lack of trust in what God says is good and better for us, just like when children fail to obey their parents because they prefer the delight of the disobedience they want to engage in, and fail to trust their parents' bigger picture and great understanding. (Going to bed now will mean you are able to get out of bed in the morning; brushing your teeth will make visits to the dentist more enjoyable!, cleaning up your room will reduce frustration when looking for things, etc).
God wants us to delight in him. A key moment of progress or enlightenment in the walk of faith is recognizing and savouring the greater delight we have in God in comparison to anything else in this world. That includes being patient (v7 and 34).
The command of faith is to 'delight yourself in God.' (v4) That makes the Christian life and the fight of faith, in the words of John Piper, a fight for the greater delight we can and should have in God. That is why the Psalmist counsels against sin and contrasts it with trusting in God, and delighting in him.
"It’s a fight to believe God’s promises of happiness over the false promises of happiness we hear from the world, our fallen flesh, and the devil. And yes, it often involves denying ourselves pleasure, but only denying ourselves a lesser, viler pleasure in order to have a much higher pleasure..."
That's what Psalm 37 seems to unpack, to my reading this morning. Don't go after or envy evildoers (v1), or materialism, (v16), Our present day security and future eternal security lie in trusting and taking refuge in our greater delight, God, and in his ways.
John Piper, again:
"Fight for the right joy! There is greater joy in God than you’ve yet known. Don’t give up. Don’t settle for the lesser joys. Make it your aim to be a full, unashamed, bold Christian Hedonist! Pursue your pleasure in God, the greatest Treasure that exists, with all your heart (Matthew 22:37). “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21)."
Derek Butler - I am a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, reader, et al, all inadequately. This blog is a tool to encourage daily bible reading, for myself and others.
Click above to access the 5 Day Reading Plan used here. I am using the 5 readings Monday through Friday, with other postings on topics of interest Saturdays and Sundays.
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