1 Chronicles 4:38-5:17; Acts 25:14-27; Psalms 6:1-5; Proverbs 3:7-8
Psalms: “Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not discipline me in your wrath. Be gracious to me, Lord, for I am weak; heal me, Lord, for my bones are shaking; my whole being is shaken with terror. And you, Lord — how long? Turn, Lord! Rescue me; save me because of your faithful love. For there is no remembrance of you in death; who can thank you in Sheol?” (Psalms 6:1-5 CSB)
Psalm 6 is a penitential psalm in which sin (either personal or corporate) is recognized as the source of trial and affliction. Penitential psalms express sorrow for sin and a desire to confess and repent to be made whole and clean. Whatever the situation was that David found himself in, it caused him to be sick with worry and shaken with fear. He felt abandoned by the Lord and surmised that he had done something deserving of God’s displeasure. The Bible does say that God disciplines or chastises those He loves, just as a good and loving father will discipline his children and not let them get away with doing whatever they want. Good and loving discipline is given to help someone grow in maturity: to correct them when they have done something wrong, to teach them a needed lesson, to shape their character, and prepare them for challenges that will come later in life. No one enjoys discipline, and it is apparent that David was not enjoying his. He asks the Lord, “How long?” A good parent will allow the discipline to last until the lesson is learned. How quickly we learn the lesson and repent from our immaturity and/or sin determines how long the discipline will last.
Many people do not see discipline as coming from a loving Father – they see it as an attack from the enemy. They reject the discipline and refuse to humble themselves and learn the lesson. David’s first move wasn’t to defensively lash out in anger. His first move was to humble himself before the Lord and ask for mercy. I believe that the church in the U.S. is undergoing a season of discipline from her loving Father. Our Father is not content to allow us to continue living our lives in immaturity. Our Father is much more committed to our maturity and growth than He is to our comfort. There are challenges in our future that we need to be strengthened to overcome by faith. If we continue living our version of the Americanized gospel, we will not be able to withstand the trials and tribulations to come, but will instead be overcome by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Instead of assuming that we are under attack and respond with an immovable defensive position of anger and vitriol, we need to first submit ourselves to the Lord and ask Him to show us what this is all for. We need to allow Him to expose in us all that is unholy, that we may repent and grow in maturity and strength. If there is an aspect of attack against us, He will show us that as well… and give us the grace in Him to overcome it. For me personally, the Lord (through His Holy Spirit) has revealed areas in my life where I need to grow in maturity… where I need to learn to be content and at peace in the Lord and His abiding presence… where I need to place my faith even more fully in Him. As I look at my life this past year, very little has been attack. Most has been discipline… and I choose to repent, learn my lesson, and live in the peace and protection of the Lord.
Proverbs: “Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones.” (Proverbs 3:7-8 CSB)
As I look and consider the current climate of the nation, and more specifically, the climate of the American “evangelical”church, much of the wisdom pervading the airwaves and the inter-webs is not Godly. The Apostle James said this about Godly wisdom: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace” (James 3:17-18 CSB). Over the past year, and greatly increasing over the past few months it has become increasingly difficult to reason with one another. A spirit of distrust has pervaded our land where wisdom and sound reasoning has been rejected and replaced with personal wisdom and personal truth. It seems that everyone doubts everything and individuals are resigned to trust only in their “inside scoop.” Everyone has their own version of what is really going on behind all the conspiracies and cover-ups. Earlier in James’ epistle, he wrote this: “Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:13-16 CSB). Regretably, I don’t see a lot of gentleness and good conduct coming from Christians on social media. What I do see is a lot of bitter envy, boasting, and a denying of the truth. It is no wonder then that we are experiencing so much disorder and evil. While many on every side of the issues have some role in the current state of our nation, we “Christians” cannot simply point the finger and blame everything on the devil and the “other party.” If anything, we the church are the ones that are called to fill our sphere of influence with the wisdom from above and overcome the corrupt and unspiritual wisdom of the world. The arenas we frequent should be at peace when we arrive as ambassadors of the Kingdom – not wrought up with more disorder and anger after we engage. We need to heed this advice from Proverbs: Do not be wise in your own eyes, but fear the Lord, turn away from and reject evil, and be filled with the pure wisdom that comes from above. It is only by pure and peaceable wisdom from above that we will be healed for today and strengthened for tomorrow.