Integrity In Your Home

November 21st, 2019

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O LORD, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless. (Psalm 101:1-3)

David’s vow as a king speaks to us all, teaching us to guard our hearts and our homes from unholy and impure influences, to walk with integrity of heart within our own houses. The psalm is primarily about earthly rulers, and the importance of integrity, but its application does not stop there, and also applies to each of us.

David, of course, unfortunately failed his own test, when his eyes cast over the bathing Bathsheba, and lust did the rest. The passage starts with the phrase, “In the spring of the year when kings march out to war, David sent … the whole army of Israel … but David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Sam 11:1). It has long been held by many Bible students that David was not doing his own duty and, thereby,  opened himself up to temptation.

Your Home

Luther held to a concept of three earthly governments: civil government, the church, and the home. Though theologians have been most interested in civil government and the church, we should not forget the importance of the home. In the home we are still subject to civil and church government, but in a much diminished way. Marriage, family, and the home is the first institution established by God, and it is the most important in life. For there values are formed and adopted, and love and fairness are experienced, or should be.

Everyone has a home, even those who live alone and are unmarried, have a home. And a Christian’s home should be a place where God is honored and evil is kept at bay. Admittedly, it is difficult to do this in today’s world, for there is so much evil in the news and entertainment medias. But to the degree possible, we should guard against polluting our hearts and minds with in pure thoughts.


Steadfast love and Justice

To values David espoused as primary to consider: (1) steadfast love, favor, or mercy, chesed in Hebrew, and (2) justice or proper judgment, mishpat in Hebrew. These words are important words and essential concepts to understand the Old Testament and how we are to live God-honoring lives. These both start in the heart of God and in His character, and the more we know of God’s mercy and favor to us, and of His judgment and justice, the more we will be able to live properly here. Truly the meanings of these two words are inexhaustible, but they consist basically of the confidence of God’s love to us and of our responsibility to think and act properly and righteously.

It starts in the heart

We cannot help but notice that David’s choice of verbs is important. He says he will “sing” of God’s steadfast love and justice, and singing comes from the heart. He described his worship of God, of valuing God’s faithfulness and goodness, making these thoughts the dominant ones in his heart each day.

He also says he will “ponder” or consider these things. This goes beyond sheer emotion or feeling, and means he will reason out the meanings of these attributes of God. He will “walk” with integrity in his home, and this describes his daily life, everyday, and the whole day. He will go about his duties contemplating these realities. And he will also “set no wicked thing” before his eyes. “Set” means to put or apply or place, and it has the idea of the matters that he will attend to during that day.

A king, of course, or any public servant, will have to deal with impure things in terms of judgment, and the remainder of the psalm has to do with winnowing out those impure people and matters from his government. His intention is to get rid of these things that cause offense to his conscience and heart.

Paul advised believers not to toy with those things that offend our consciences — even if they do not bother every Christian. “But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean” (Rom. 14:14). If you and I feel guilty for doing something, then we should not do it. If our feelings of guilt are not well grounded in truth, or justifiable, then God will show us that as we mature. But just because other Christians may be involved in some activity and say it is okay, if we feel uncomfortable in our hearts, then we should not do it.

What is unsaid

David only alludes to his desire for God to walk close to him, as he says, “When will You come to me?” To be a believer in the Lord Jesus is not merely about thinking the right thoughts, or doing the right things. It is especially about walking in fellowship with God through the Spirit. We faithfully stand for God not because we are so clever but because God is so faithful. We stand in Him.

Walking in the faith means walking in the fellowship of the Spirit with God. Christ Himself shows up in our lives and in our consciousnesses through His Spirit, speaking to our spirits. And He enables us to stand. (See Romans 14:4 and Jude 1:24.)

Questions:

  1. How often is the steadfast love and judgment of God on your mind?
  2. Do you long for daily fellowship with Christ?
  3. Are there unconfessed sins and unsurrendered habits in your life that you need to give to God?
  4. What impure things do you set before your eyes daily?
  5. How do you ponder about the love and justice of God?

Psalms

Is There Still Hope?

November 20th, 2019

The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the innermost parts of his being. (Proverbs 20:27 ESV)

Anyone observing the news in America today would be discouraged. It is becoming as Aeschylus said centuries ago, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” And as Isaiah said, “So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter” (Isaiah 59:14).

The partisan politics we see today have been around a long time, only they were not publicly broadcast across the nation. The craziness stayed mostly in the capital and the average person could go about his or her business without giving these things much thought. But today it spills over into the living rooms of not only America but the whole world.

It is the type of thinking that abandons logic and truth, forgets perspective and motive, and that merely contradicts what the “other side” says. (It reminds me of the old Monty Python “Argument” sketch.) In a logical argument one side, using logic, history, and a wealth of experience, establishes a proposition, and then reasonably debates the merit of it. But in today’s world it seems that mere contradictory rhetoric is what we hear.

I have to admit that I, for one, am sick and tired of the angry self-righteous, condemnatory rhetoric that comes out of so many mouths today on both sides of any issue.  When logic is abandoned, when people no longer seek first and foremost to find the truth of the matter and to process it rationally, then it is very difficult to go forward.

And even after the matter is “finished,” it is not really over. It remains unsettled in people’s hearts. And even if truth seems to be the goal of one side, it is a limited goal, for what is truly desired, in such a situation, is not to rule by logic, but to use limited truth, related to one case, as a tool to push through illogical agendas. “If we were right about this, then we are right about everything else.” But the other side is not actually vanquished, but rather they remain very much present and angry, guaranteeing more conflict in the future.

But God brings light to the human spirit

This is why this morning this verse above (Prov. 20:27) spoke to my heart. It tells us that God is still at work in the human spirit. We should not be discouraged as though we “little people” are without power or influence. We have more than we can ever imagine! If we will listen to God, read His Word and hear His Spirit, and do what is right, we can become God’s tools to change the world.

The word translated “spirit” here is nasham in Hebrew, and it relates back to the creation of man, when God breathed into his nostrils the “breath” of life and man became a living being. Nasham means a “puff,” “wind,” or “breath,” and by extension it carries the weight of the enlightenment of God in the human soul.

It contrasts with the word for “inmost being” which is literally, “the inner parts of the belly” in the Hebrew, and refers to the baser thoughts and motives of life: our appetites. It means that God’s plan for mankind is that His Spirit and His Word would enlighten our spirits, enabling us to function on the levels of righteousness and rationality, and not on the baser levels of lust, ambition, anger, and pride.

The meaning is that no matter how darkened the human soul has become through sin and selfishness, resulting of the twisting of the truth and the neglect of justice, there is still present in each of us the candle of the Lord. As Job cried out to his accusers:

As long as my breath is in me,
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,
my lips will not speak falsehood,
and my tongue will not utter deceit.  (Job 27:3-4 ESV)

What is needed today, and in every age, is for spiritual men and women who will listen to God’s voice, heed His commands, and let Him be their light in their spirits, and then go out and do what is right, using logic, reason, wisdom, and righteousness.

God is still at work to this day

Because of this truth, then we can have hope for our world. Politicians and news media always overstate their importance to life in today’s world, and we should not take them too seriously. They are both important, but just not as important as they present themselves to be. Though Christians should be informed of political developments and vote their conscience, though we should respect and pray for leaders (Romans 13:1-3), most of our day to day living is done irrespective of them.

As I near my seventieth birthday, I am convinced that the prayers of Christians, the preaching of God’s Word, and the providential care of God have much more to do with the shaping of this world than political leaders or news outlets. If you want to make a real difference in this world, pray for the leaders, learn what is right and what is wrong from God’s Word, care for your neighbors, help the needy, stand up for justice, be kind to others, and share your hope in Christ Jesus.

The simple believer who daily seeks to follow the Lord is still the single most powerful advocate for good changes in all societies to come about.

Proverbs