Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Enemy of Delighting in God, Part I

In what do you delight? Do you sometimes find yourself "delighting" in things that are less than satisfying? Some delight in antiques. Some delight in food. Some delight in money. Some delight in the past. Some delight in bitterness. (Being a Southerner, I have observed some rather monumental grudges that people have held onto for decades!) However, most of these things can begin to take distorted places in our lives and actually rob us of the delight we for which we hope.
I have come to believe that many Jesus followers want to grow in their love relationship with God and having that kind of desire is good since that is exactly what Psalm 37:4 states,

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

In the book of Job, one of Job's friends gives some helpful insight as to what it means to delight in God.

"Agree with God and be at peace...receive instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart...if you remove injustice far from your tents...if you lay gold in the dust...then th Almighty will be your gold and precious silves. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God.
Job 22:21-26

Now granted, Eliphaz and Job's other companions bring much assumption that Job must have somehow sinned against God and that is the reason for him ending up in such calamity. However, we know that God declared Job a faithful servant (Job 1:8). Nonetheless, there is value in Eliphaz's words in guiding us toward delighting in God.

First, he remind us to "agree with God...receive instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart". It is a good thing when we walk in agreement with someone. It makes a relationship go much smoother and there can be much productiveness. As followers, our primary responsibility is to come to see things as God see them. When he declares something as right and true, we are called to embrace that word. Jesus said in John 15:10,14, "...if you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love....You are my friends if you do what I command you." Delighting in God takes root when we first and foremost take to heart what God says. We make time in our life to cultivate a love for God's word in order that we might know it, meditate on it and live it.

Second, Eliphaz states the need to "remove injustice far from your tents." This statement is related to us living out what we are learning from God. It reveals a heart that is committed to wanting the things that God desires. We are called to reject untruthful systems and ways of this world (things opposed to God) and embrace a character of integrity and honesty (things that please God). Often, God would decry the injustice of his people Israel through the words of the prophets. He would cry out against their commitment to dishonest gain and cheating others (see Malachi 3:5). Unjust living is the result of not caring about what God desires and commands. The problem with the Israelites was not just the sin but the attitude of disregard for God's word and the embracing of unjust living. Our call is to remove such attitudes and actions from our life. This can be a fight and that is the benefit for us when we belong to the church since we can join with one another in the fight!

Third, Job's friend makes an appeal to "lay gold in the dust." Nothing can be a greater enemy to delighting yourself in God than a wrong desire in having material possessions. The bible constantly states that an unhealthy focus on what you have can not so subtly take your focus off of God. Jesus said you can not love God and money (Matthew 6:24). In Luke's gospel, Jesus stated that our life is not to be measured by the things we acquire (Luke 12:15). He knew that a life focused primarily on acquiring cash may very well cause one to compromise the truth of God in order to have it. This is not just a problem for the wealthy that have much but for the poor that have an unhealthy and unbiblical focus on the acquiring and use of money. (Lest you be tempted to think you are not rich, I recently hear Pastor David Rosales of Calvary Chapel Chino Valley state that 85% of the world's population makes it on less than $2 a day!) The bible's teaching on money might be simply understood as work hard for what you need but recognize that your Father provides and since it is from him, love him and not money.

Loving God's word. Removing injustice from your life. Don't love money. These are some simple but profound reminders to what can lead us to "delight ourselves in God."

A book that I would reccomend to you in your pursuit to delight yourself in God is The Dangerous Duty of Delight by John Piper. However, spending some time meditating on the Psalm 37 would also be hightly encouraged!

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