Monday, February 29, 2016
Psalm 73:23-28 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.
I have found in all of these years of following Jesus that the Word of God clearly and precisely touches the reality of who I am. Sometimes it really hurts to recognize that the Holy Spirit is using the divine revelation of God in the Bible to address the most personal of issues that affect my life.
So it is with Psalm 73. I have one of those love/hate relationships with it. I love the way it ends. I don’t like the way it convicts me in the beginning. You see, this Psalm describes me.
I tend to make comparisons. And like Asaph, the author of this Psalm, those comparisons are distorted. I think we can all relate to this. We tend to see what we want to see because our hearts are already convinced that there is something better that we are missing. When our minds have determined that we are not experiencing everything we could, then we tend to be extra-observant of those things we think we are missing.
For example, when you wanted to buy a different car, and you had to choose a model and a color, you started noticing how many other cars just like it there were on the road, didn’t you? There were no more of those cars on the road today then yesterday, but suddenly you noticed more of them because it’s what you wanted.
Asaph is not happy about his financial condition and social status. He thinks he would be better off if he had more money. Suddenly it looks like everyone who doesn’t trust God has what he wants. His impressions of the ungodly person become so distorted that in addition to being wealthy he thinks they also have no struggles. Their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man. They appear to not be plagued by human ills. All he can see in the unsaved person is what appears to be great prosperity in every part of their lives.
This is a huge distortion of reality, isn’t it? But when we play the comparison game we invite the Enemy to deceive us into thinking that we are missing something and only the world can provide it. We are tempted to pursue their independent and self-sufficient lifestyle, being carefree and increasing in wealth.
But Asaph quickly comes to his senses. He passes on the opportunities of the immediate and with a mature perspective he considers the long-term ramifications of his choices. The immediate benefits of worldly living are not worth the ultimate destruction that will come upon all who choose them.
Satan has devised an attractive “70 years same as cash” offer. He has sold people a bill of goods. His advertisements are convincing. People believe that personal happiness is the ultimate experience of life, and that the world’s ways are the best ways to achieve that happiness. And you don’t have to pay a thing now to enjoy all of the benefits. Just sign this contract and take the merchandise home today. You can pay for it in 70 years.
Asaph doesn’t fall for it. He’s tempted, but when he takes the offer to God (verse 17) his eyes are opened to be able to read the fine print. He sees that in exchange for immediate pleasure and prosperity we sacrifice eternal life. Payment in full is required upon your death. Payment consists of the total loss of life, wealth, health, relationships, and freedom and an eternity of suffering separated from God in the lake of burning sulfur.
If only more people would pay attention to the fine print. Asaph does and chooses wisely. He says, “Earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (verse 25)
The choice seems easy. It’s either the world now and nothing later, or God now and everything later. Those who choose the world now may get the world’s goods now, but they get God never. Those who choose God now may have to suffer for a while, but God is there to walk through it with them, and God will bring them into His glory when it’s over.
Don’t let Satan convince you that you’re missing something. Eve fell for that in the garden and look where we are today. Don’t fall for his comparison game with the world. You’ll end up with nothing. Delete from your memory bank and thought process any phrases that start with, “It would be good if I had ____________.”
Instead, live by this statement – “It is good to be near God.” (verse 28)