Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Fight of Faith is a War of Attrition

Reading: Psalm 37
Does it ever look as if wickedness pays off and righteousness is paid back with evil? Does it ever seem as if those who don't follow the Lord seem better off than those who do? It is during those times, especially, that we need Psalm 37 to remind us that the fight of faith is a war of attrition. To say it another way, walking by faith, is not a sprint, but a marathon.
Remember Aesop's fable, The Tortoise and the Hare? The speedy hare (rabbit) mocked the tortoise for the absurd notion that the slow tortoise should suggest that the hare could be beaten, and certainly not by the slow tortoise. Does it ever feel like the wicked, in their apparent prosperity, are mocking those who follow the Lord, just by their seemingly blessed lives? The psalmist speaks to us when we are in that fight of faith.
1Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; 2for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 3Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. (Psalm 37:1-3)
Why are we tempted to fret because of evil men, or to be envious of those who disobey the Lord? According to Psalm 37:7, it is because they “succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” It was supposed to backfire! Their wicked schemes were supposed to come back on their own heads (Psalm 7:14-16), but instead, they are succeeding.
What are we told? Be still before the Lord; wait patiently for him. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath. (Psalm 37:7, 8) On what basis? On what basis are we called to continue to trust God and do right? How can we continue to walk by faith, trusting in the truth that obedience to God is better than going our own way? Because, “in a little while...the wicked will be no more...their day is coming.” (Psalm 37:10, 13)
Not only will the wicked be no more, but also those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land, the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. In David's day, “the land” would have been seen as the promised land. Jesus quoted this verse, “The meek will inherit the earth.” It is the same word. Could mean the land of promise, i.e. the promise, or the earth. Either way, the point is the same: The humble, those who are hoping in the Lord and not living their own way, will eventually come out on top.
Why? Why do those who follow the Lord eventually come out on top? Why do we not need to fret or be envious of the wicked? There is coming a day when they will be no more. Of course, someone might observe that the same could be said of the righteous. But not so. Not only will the meek inherit the land, but they will dwell in it forever and their inheritance will endure forever (see Psalm 37:18, 27-29).
We get to the New Testament and we begin to have filled out for us how this is so. For those who trust in the Lord (those are the meek of Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5), even though they die, they live (John 11:25).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you... (1 Peter 1:3-4)
So the fight of faith is, at times, a war which we just have to know will be won by attrition. I can't help but think of the martyrs who, though killed, live and reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4). As we continue to trust in God, we will outlast the wicked. We can't lose that perspective, or we will fret (burn with anger) or become envious—actually wishing we were in their shoes. Those are dangerous places to be, so may we learn to be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him!
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,
Jerry

1 comment:

  1. Excellent thoughts, Jerry. Super encouraged by this as I am often confronted with this argument of the unbeliever "prospering".

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