Every day we have choices. Each particular choice has it’s own end result. Last night in our Wednesday night Student Bible study, we went through Psalm 1, which talks about two ways of living. When it comes to our decisions regarding Jesus, there are two possible end results: 1. Life in eternity with Jesus and 2. Life in eternity without Him. There is no consideration for pragmatism. There is no consideration for apathy. There is no consideration for feigned ignorance. I take that back, there is consideration, but none of those things are “taken into account” when it comes to determining our final resting place once our earthly bodies die. That result, that consideration, the eternal one, is black and white. I’m afraid that many want to ride on the thought that “God knows my heart, so He’ll understand why I feel the way I do and He’ll let me in because I’m a nice person.” Terrifying, especially because we are all there at some point in our lives, and there’s not a much bigger lie out there.
The choice regarding eternity that we have to make, is to choose to walk in the way of the wicked, or to walk in the way of righteousness. That is why the results are black and white. The predetermination of the end result of each choice is based on the fact that a Holy God cannot look on sin. Do we have sin in our lives? Yes, yes we all do! Not a single one of us is holy, righteous, clean, perfect, stainless, you get the picture, on our own. The only hope we have of being blameless is because the God who created us and pursues us gave His only Son to take that sin. When we choose to look the other way to satisfy and pacify ourselves and seek what temporarily feels good, we run away from a loving God who wants us and pursues us, but doesn’t need us. Do we understand that mindset? Some of you guys who read my blog are parents whose children have gone astray, despite your best efforts, and it’s heartbreaking and mind-boggling to try and understand why they’ve chosen that. We, as parents, try to provide the very best for our kids and sometimes they act like they just don’t care. The heartache that comes with that is compounded when we treat God like that when He’s already provided the very best for us, but we spit in His face as a “thank you.”
Psalm 1:1 tells us that “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;…” The psalmist lines out very plainly what a person who is “blessed” does not do. The term “blessed” here is referring to someone who knows God, follows God, who has redemption and salvation in his or her life. When that redemption is present, there will be temptations to follow the advice of those who don’t know salvation. The one who has redemption will have to make the choice to follow the world, or to follow the One who gives the redemption. How do we know which choice to make? That all depends on where our time is spent and where we draw our advice from. Verse 2 tells us that the “blessed” delights in the law, or instruction, of the Lord, and that he meditates on it day and night. How much easier are our decisions when we spend large amounts of time meditating on God’s Word? They become exponentially easier, in my opinion, when we spend time seeking God instead of taking advice from those who desire to pacify us. I used the analogy of who to go to for relationship advice as an example of where to find wise counsel. I asked my students, who are predominantly middle schoolers, who they go to for relationship advice, their best friends or to a couple who has been married for a few decades? Guess who they chose. Their “best friends, of course!” I asked them how many years of consistent and constant relationship advice their friends had. Then I asked them how much experience the older couple who had been married for many years had. Next, I posed the question “Why do we go to our best friends for advice instead of those who have experience?” I saw a ton of shoulders shrug after that. The next question is where wheels seemed to start turning, which was “Will your friends give you an objective answer, even when it might hurt or be the answer you don’t want to hear?” Most said “no,” a few said “yes.” You see, our friends will tickle our ears, give us the easy answers about how to live our life because conflict is not popular. We sometimes want someone to justify our actions and decisions, and because of that, we go to who will give us the advice we want. Sometimes we need that hard answer or response about the decisions we are making. How hard is it to follow Jesus, but how much more beautiful are the results of those difficult choices? Praise God that He gives us His Word to study in order to glorify and honor Him!
“Relationship, with anyone, comes from constant and consistent contact and time spent with that person. the same goes for our relationship with Jesus.”
When we read verse 3, we see what happens when we stay in God’s Word, seeking His wisdom and guidance instead of seeking what will temporarily satisfy. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” As water is the physical life-source for humans, animals and plants, so the Word of God is for the Christian. Trees grow to their fullest potential when planted by a constant and consistent water source. Think about that for a minute. If we expect a pine tree to grow to 70 feet tall in the shortest amount of time while planted in the middle of a prairie, are we having reasonable expectations? Then why do we expect or hope to grow in our relationship with Jesus if we treat the Bible like a crash diet? Relationship, with anyone, comes from constant and consistent contact and time spent with that person. The same goes for our relationship with Jesus.
All of this may sound like I’m describing a “works-based salvation,” but I assure you that this is not the case. Our salvation comes from Christ alone, so that I cannot boast about myself or anything that I may have done. The fact is, because God loves us so much, He gave His Son selflessly for us because He desires relationship with us. Does that make God a weak God? No, it makes Him an amazing Father! What the psalmist is writing about is the direction we are to follow to honor and love our amazing Father, not about a checklist of things to do for grace to occur. He includes the warning of living by the advice or “wisdom” of the world as a reminder of what happens when we reject a Holy and just God. The question then tends to come up “Why would a loving God send me to hell?” The short answer is that He won’t send you to hell, but you get the option to choose your final resting place. Put faith in Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s never-ending love, grace and mercy and celebrate eternity with others who made the same decision. Put faith in finding your own way, your own salvation, your own merit and celebrate death, pain and never-ending torment with others who made that decision as well. The decision is ultimately yours, God isn’t going to force you to love Him, that’s not love.
If you are living an unsatisfied life and trying to satisfy something with what the world gives you, you’ll continue to search. Even if you’re living a life that’s not “bad,” even by “church standards,” treating people great, donating to charity, being the nicest and most moral person that you know how to be, you’ll continue to search how to fulfill that empty feeling. The only solution to that lack of satisfaction, is Jesus. You’ll never find fulfillment in your spouse, friends, your children, your job, money, pornography, adultery, or anything else that isn’t in pursuit of Jesus. Fortunately, God gives us His Word as a beautiful resource to look to the examples of many before us who have found fulfillment and satisfaction in Jesus.
What are some of your thoughts about how we can encourage our friends, family, and even complete strangers to seek Christ? In a culture that has a tendency to run away from God, how can we put focus on living in the satisfaction of Jesus? I’d love to hear from you and discuss with you on your thoughts!