Every Wednesday we’ll post something to do with doctrine and recovery. Hope it helps.
So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. - Psalms 73:22
David was having one of those days, one of those Everybody’s got it good but me, Life’s unfair, Why bother days? days. It began, as such days usually do, with envy.
“For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (vs.3)
A righteous man is a struggling man, because he strives against his own passions to do, speak and think rightly. He meets obstacles everywhere, from within and without, and the more faithful he seeks to be, the more conflict is generated.
If you’ve ever dieted you know about that. When you’re not even trying to eat in a healthy way, anything goes down your throat. But when you commit to a better way and start reading labels, counting carbs, and watching portions, conflict happens. Suddenly it’s all harder. You have to consider every meal, avoid compromise, retain motivation and patiently wait for results.
Likewise, when you commit to godly living, you realize how at odds this world is with the direction you’ve chosen. Suddenly it’s all harder. You have to consider every move – every DVD watched; every relationship chosen or avoided; every action – then avoid compromise, retain motivation and patiently wait for results. And sometimes it gets old. Sometimes you falter on the edge of the Will I or Won’t I? cliff. Sometimes you resent how little support you’re feeling from others, or what a small payoff there seems to be for all the effort you’re putting into abstinence from the wrong and commitment to the right. So you start looking around you, and you see what David saw when viewing the wicked:
For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.
They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. (vs. 4-7)
You see people not the least bit stressed by questions of right versus wrong. You see men giving in to what you resist; lashing out when you hold back; indulging when you abstain. And coming out on top! People lie, cheat, fornicate, and brutally climb on the backs of their victims while they succeed, and not only do they win, but they’re completely unbothered by the way they did it. The wicked prosper; the righteous often, it seems, finish last. And in moments like that I ask myself, “Who wants to be a finishing-last loser?”
That’s when I get mad. Snarly, beastly mad. Dishes get broken, walls get punched. I’m sick of trying to “be good” when nobody else seems to care. I’m through playing by rules no one else recognizes. I’m exhausted, I’m a martyr, I’m Mr. Mistreated and Misunderstood and I’m through, do you hear me, through! My tantrum stinks to high heaven, and the angels note that Dallas is putting his beast suit on again. And that’s when God sends a gracious reality check:
Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. (vs. 17)
If I look for the immediate return, I miss the point. Our investment in holiness is not about quick payback, although I have to say there’s on-the-spot peace and strength when we walk in the Spirit. But more than that, it’s about eternity. When we commit to obedience in these disobedient times, we enjoy the quick payback of being in His will and deepening our fellowship with Him, and we anticipate the eternal fruit we’ll reap when this time-limited life is over. And when I consider the end of the wicked, the devastation of realizing their wrongdoing could never be worth the bitter harvest they’ll reap, my envy turns to genuine sympathy. I go from resenting them to loving them, wishing they’d reconsider while they can. And then, like David, I look in the mirror and see the beast I became and am amused, ashamed, resolved. The beast suit doesn’t suit me. It’s gotta go.
So yes, today will be hard in ways. I’m sure I’ll struggle here and there, and no doubt I’ll notice someone enjoying what I renounce, and seeming to prosper more than I do. He’ll look better than me, act prouder, have a fatter wallet, a better time and a bigger grin. That’s when I hope I’ll have, by God’s grace, the far sightedness to tell myself, as Paul did:
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. - Galatians 6:9