By Justin Randolph
Pastor, Zion Hill Baptist Church, Sevierville
How beautiful, sweet, and innocent is a newborn baby. For many, we would keep them as babies forever, and yet we take them to their first doctor’s visit hoping that their measurements and weight indicate growth. Later in life, as their physical maturity increases, the harder work begins of helping them develop their emotional and intellectual maturity. But, the goal is always an upward movement of growth. The thrill and reward is in the maturity of the child. In fact, some of life’s greatest moments celebrate this maturation process. From their first word and steps, to graduations, first job, and marriage, we mark these moments where our children grow into mature adults.
In the same way, our journey toward our home in heaven is one of being made mature in Christ. He has promised to bring us into His kingdom complete and lacking nothing. But, for now, we are on a journey to maturation. In verses 17-20, the psalmist identifies where his strength and courage resides. He prays to the Lord for both the grace to understand and the ability to keep His Word. He has come to the understanding that obedience to God’s commands does not come by chance, but through a genuine decision to obey and mature in them. Likewise, while obedience leads to becoming a stranger of this world, it also leads to an abundant fellowship with God and prepares a soul for occupancy in His eternal kingdom. Therefore, the psalmist passionately prays to God for the strength and courage to follow His righteous judgments.
Verses 21-22 show the clear contrast between a faithful follower and a stubborn rebel. Pride is the enemy of faithful obedience. It often leads to failure in our spiritual walk and disastrous consequences. Any pride in our hearts should be confronted and dealt with immediately. One symptom of pride is showing contempt toward others. The psalmist understood this and prayed he would remain focused in the midst of such opposition. Jesus said this world system would hate His followers much as it hated Him. Oftentimes, contempt for believers occurs as a result of unbelievers being reminded of their own shortcomings and failures. While we should avoid judgmental attitudes and constant condemnation, God expects us to live holy lives as a testimony of God’s truth and grace. Perhaps our courageous stand for righteousness might lead others to embrace God’s truth.
Lastly, the psalmist describes his “delight” and his “trust” in the testimonies of the Lord. In today’s world, we have so many voices that clamor for our attention. Many, if not most, are not worthy of our attention. While our enemy is not flesh and blood, he sometimes uses people — people who pervert the gospel while posing as friends, people who are controlled by their appetites and have given themselves over to the flesh, people who call what is evil good and what is good evil. They are friends of this world and therefore are enemies of God. They are destined to follow the god of this world, the devil, to his eternal destruction. Like Paul, we say this not with boasting, but with weeping. These people ought to be marked, but never lauded or followed. We must watch out who we choose to admire and allow to speak into our lives and the lives of our children.
As servants of God, we choose to meditate on His statutes and follow godly examples on our way to maturity and our eternal home.