If humanity as a whole has become adept at one thing, it must be the judgement and condemnation of one another. I believe this to be true in all circles, and sadly, perhaps it is most true among Christians. We condemn one another publicly and privately, we question someone's ability to be a Christian if they are homosexual, or if they have tattoos, or if we catch them in a lie. We condemn those that smoke tobacco or weed (which was burn on Jewish alters before God), or drink alcohol (Christ is know to have imbibed), or a myriad of other offenses. We are so concerned with what a Christian should not do, that we are losing focus on what Christians should be doing.
We all know what parables are. Those little stories that teach us moral or spiritual lessons like The Goose Who Laid The Golden Egg, The Tortoise and the Hare, or any number of Aesop's Fables. Many times, these fables, or parables, demonstrate lessons by using real world examples, like The Ant and the Grasshopper. You know, the one where the grasshopper pokes fun at the ant, who is working hard storing up food for the winter, only to have to beg that same ant for food once the seasons change. These stories impart valuable wisdom to us, but the most valuable parables come from God Himself.
In Psalm 73, the psalmist tell us that he had been behaving like a "brute beast" before the Lord. What does this mean exactly? To be savage, uncontrollable, lacking intelligence, sensitivity, and compassion, this is a brute beast and describes the unrepentant sinner perfectly. Not to say that the unbeliever is unintelligent, but rather ignorant of that which would benefit them the most. They are not completely without sensitivity or compassion, but their sensitivity is limited to that which they deem worthy of their compassion. They are not out of control, but refuse to yield control of their lives to a cause greater than themselves and their own desires. Psalm 73 looks at the relationship that an unbeliever might have with the Lord, and juxtaposes it against that of the believer.
We all suffer from the same condition, we are all human. This means that we experience overwhelming emotion sometimes, and it may cause us to lose control of ourselves. We may act irrationally, erratically, or even dangerously. We may insult one another and betray our most trusted friends. Once we have sinned in this way, what should we do? If we repeatedly with the same sin, what do we do?
What do you do after you have had a stressful day? Relax on the couch, watch tv, cuddle? Perhaps you go to the gym and exercise, or take a hike through the woods. Whatever it is, it must help you to calm your mind and relax or else it would not be your preferred activity right? I must ask though, is there any thing that can calm your mind, body, and soul more that God? If God is your rock, why lean on anything else?
Since the beginning of our existence, mankind has fought continuously over natural resources. Water, fertile soil, forests, oil, gold, and a great deal of other items have been the centerpiece of death and destruction as greed has driven various cultures at different time periods to attempt to control access to these things. With all of that violence we may have forgotten an important fact, we don’t actually own anything. We can’t own anything. All the world belongs to God, including humanity. If we belong to God, and the world belongs to God, then how can we own anything?
What can mankind do that will be eternal? Will our monuments last through the ages? Will our great deeds be remembered in perpetuity? Is there anything in this life which we can accumulate as a payment to God for the redemption of our souls? If there is nothing we can do, nothing that we can accumulate, that will last through the ages, what then is the purpose of our insignificant lives?
On my journey with Christ, there have been quite a few things I have given up, and frankly, there have been times when I miss those things. While we should not be envious of one another, sometimes it is difficult to see a world that can be so unrepentantly carefree. The temptations of the flesh do effect us all equally, after all. However, Psalm 37 addresses these feelings, and in the process it challenges what is considered to be the traditional Christian view of Hell. Is there any reason that we should envy those who will be rewarded with destruction?
What is our conscience? We all understand how to express what a conscience is; it is a sort of inner voice that we use to determine what is good or bad, but what is it really? While that is a question science struggles to answer, one theory is that it is the emotional response created when we think about our future/past actions. This allows us to reflect on the consequences of our previous actions in order to determine whether our future actions are good or bad. But there is another inner voice, one which contests the verdict of our conscience. A voice with only our self interests at heart.
This psalm opens by setting the stage for why the rest of the psalm is important. We are blessed because the Lord will forgive our sins, and for those that seek forgiveness, there is nothing that will provide more joy. Have you ever asked for forgiveness from someone in your life? If you were truly sorry, do you remember the wave of relief that came once you were forgiven? This is a feeling that cannot be replicated, it is a feeling of relief like no other, and when the Lord grants us forgiveness, this feeling of relief comes with an intensity that cannot be forgotten.