December 13, 2017

Do You Wrestle with This Temptation?

Thomas Overmiller

God is always good to his people, all the time. That’s what David affirms in Psalm 73:1. But in doing so, he makes an honest admission. Can you relate? He had been jealous of ungodly people (Psalm 73:2-3). His jealousy centered on their material prosperity and sinful indulgence, free from obvious consequences (Psalm 73:4-12). What did David begin to conclude?

Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain. (Psalm 73:13 NKJV)

This is a terrible conclusion! The pursuit of God and the practice of godly living has nothing to do with a self-centered, “what’s in it for me” attitude. Yet David admits his struggle with this very thing. Do you know this struggle? Do you wrestle with this temptation to think that godly living is useless and ungodly living offers an easier, better way?

Sadly, this mindset affects great swaths of so-called Christianity. Some call it the “health, wealth and prosperity gospel.” But it isn’t a gospel at all. It is a hoax. God never offers material prosperity, sumptuous pleasures and worldly ease in exchange for godly living. Some of God’s children grow rich. Others grow poor. And all should anticipate some degree of persecution. But your degree of material success and comfort is not a direct result of your Christian maturity.

Though David faced this temptation, he soon gained victory over it. How? By remembering his duty to the next generation of God’s people (Psalm 73:15). He knew that succumbing to this terrible perspective would spawn a greater problem. He would teach God’s people to be envious. That’s what happens with an envious heart. Envious thoughts lead to envious words, which spreads your envy to others.

The key for David was returning to worship in the presence of God (Psalm 73:17). Surrounded by God’s people worshiping in the tabernacle, hearing the Scriptures, offering prayers and praising God, David realized the end result of ungodly living. He was reminded why it was a terrible path to follow (Psalm 73:18-20). It ends in destruction, while the pursuit of God ends in glory (Psalm 73:24).

Do you struggle with this temptation? Perhaps you have backed away from regular worship and fellowship with your church family on the Lord’s Day and at other times. Absence from church increases your vulnerability to worldly envy, materialism and earth-bound thinking.

Having turned his thinking around, David returned to the right perspective. He affirmed that the pursuit of God and the practice of godly living are worth it (Psalm 73:25). Why? Not because a godly life delivers fleshly gratification, as immorality does (Psalm 73:27), but because it draws you closer to God in a way that is not vain, but lasts forever (Psalm 73:26). And that’s what matters.

As you live God’s way, you may experience physical and emotional weakness, but that’s okay (Psalm 73:26). You are weak and will always be weak. But God is strong and will always be strong. You need God. So what should you do? Trust in God, against all feeling, and tell others about the great and good God that you serve.

But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works. (Psalm 73:28 NKJV)

Thomas Overmiller serves as pastor for Faith Baptist Church in Corona, NY and blogs at Shepherd Thoughts. This article first appeared at Shepherd Thoughts and is used with permission.

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