Friday, January 12, 2017
Psalm 129:5-8 5 May all who hate Zion be put to shame and turned backward! 6 Let them be like the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up, 7 with which the reaper does not fill his hand nor the binder of sheaves his arms, 8 nor do those who pass by say, “The blessing of the LORD be upon you! We bless you in the name of the LORD!”
What a contrast this Psalm is from the previous one. Yesterday we saw the Lord seated on Zion bringing prosperity to the church and blessing to Godly families. Today we see the removal of blessing from those who hate Zion.
As I observed people the other day, I noticed a specific difference in some of them. I’d never really seen it so obviously before, but the more I thought about it the more of a generalization I began to form. The danger with generalizations is that those who don’t fit into them can be offended. For this I apologize up front. If you are outside the norm of this generalization, then be blessed and be thankful.
Here’s what happened. I had several stops to make at different businesses, and at each one I passed by people either leaving as I was entering or entering as I was leaving. As I entered the bank, a young woman in her 20’s came out, and as I opened the door for her she hurried to her car without a word and made no eye contact. As I came out of the bank I met an elderly man on the sidewalk. He said hello, and then asked, “Did you leave any in there for me.” I told him I had put more in for him, and we both chuckled. Behind him was a middle-aged woman who looked me right in the eyes and said hello. I got in my car and drove to my next stop.
When I arrived the store was busy. People of all ages were milling around. As I passed by them I purposefully made eye contact with each one. I wanted to see who would initiate a greeting, even though we did not know one another. Here’s what I found. People over the age of 50 (my estimate) are much more willing to greet people they don’t know than those younger than 50. Those who are under the age of 30 are most unlikely to care that anyone else is around them. Of course, one huge factor is my age. But I also noticed that those under the age of 30 were not even acknowledging their peers.
What’s my point in this. When I get greeted by another person who initiates conversation with me, I am made to feel valuable and important and my spirit is blessed. It feels good to know that someone else noticed me and cared enough to say hi. I’m convinced that when I initiate the greeting, I become a blessing to them.
How much more is that true when I meet someone I know already. Even beyond that, how much more of a blessing it is when that person is a brother or sister in Christ and we share a moment of true fellowship in the Lord. Such relationship is sweet to the soul and uplifts the heart.
What a contrast that is to the removal of blessing we see in Psalm 129. Rather than experiencing the blessing of fellowship in the Lord, those who hate the Lord are removed from receiving any such blessing. People who choose to reject the grace of God when it has been presented to them, and live only by the flesh, will be left to themselves. How discouraging it must be to be so wrapped up in one’s self that there is little or no connection and interaction with others. Even the contact they have with others brings no real satisfaction because they are only feeding off each other’s despondency. Any blessing they may receive from someone is unfulfilling, because apart from God there is no true experience of love. People are walking around hopelessly lost.
But we who know the Lord are to recognize them and reach out to them with the love of Jesus. Years ago, I remember a young couple who visited our church. We had no idea who they were. They came in and sat in the back. Later that day we discovered that one of the men of our church, who understands the principle of recognizing others, had seen them sitting on the front steps of their apartment building. He initiated contact with them, and invited them to church. Not discouraged by their initial resistance to the subject, he continued to relate to them at their level of understanding, and then left. How surprised he was when they showed up in church. Since then another person from our church has been to see them and talk to them. One of our staff members responded to this situation with this statement – If we were all doing what he did, our church would be going to a 2nd service soon!!
Why aren’t we all doing what he did? Why aren’t we, no matter what age we are, noticing people around us and initiating contact with them, even if it’s just a simple hello? Are we so wrapped up in our own lives that we cannot notice others? Are we so busy and hurried that we cannot take time to be polite? Is our love for Jesus Christ and the eternal hope of heaven so small in us that we neglect to accomplish His purpose for our lives?
These are penetrating questions that run through my mind. I hope they stimulate you to think about this as well. Think about it hard. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Let’s be the living examples of God’s love that Jesus will use to draw others to Himself.