WHEN THE GRASS IS PLENTY ON THE OTHER SIDE.
One is not long in the ministry before they start feeling that their personal needs are overwhelming them. Then we quickly remember that the Lord blesses those who are faithful. But how we easily think that those blessings must always come in financial terms. What happens when we do not see our faithfulness to God translating into material blessings?
In Psalm 73 we meet Asaph who was a leader like many of you and faced a similar temptation. One thing made his feet to almost stumble. When he looked at the prosperity of the wicked his steps nearly slipped. Donít we find ourselves in similar situations? You labor to be faithful in the things of the Lord but when you look at your neighbor who divorced his wife and run away with anotherís wife seems to be prospering financially by the day. You have kept your heart clean but when you look at your unsaved brother he is in and out of jail for driving drunk, his company keeps getting big government contracts. Your children are obedient and faithful in reading their Bibles and attending Sunday school. But the naughty ones at church who keep cursing and are disrespectful are the ones who score the best marks in school.
When we remove our gaze from our master to others materials this can really slow us down. We can grow envious and therefore the ministry could become a pain and a drag. We could also find that we have been caught up in the rat race of this world and the ministry has been relegated into something we just do on Sunday then wait for Monday to get into the real thing. This progression could find that we have sadly arrived at a place where we have abandoned the ministry all together.
Iím not down-playing the fact that resources are necessary while on earth. But there is a temptation we can fall into thinking that we need the money to prove a point. In almost all of Paulís letters he would emphatically state where his calling was from. That his calling was by the will of God (1 Cor. 1:1), that God alone set him apart for the gospel ministry (Rom. 1:1). In Galatians, Paul spends a considerable long portion of scripture to explain the fact that his apostleship was not from men or through men but only through God. This kind of understanding of oneís calling brethren should act like a bulwark against the temptation to think that a pursuit of the material will give you an edge to ministry.
What was the turning point for the psalmist? Going into the sanctuary of the Lord renewed his mind and his wrong thinking was corrected (vv. 16, 17). We praise the Lord for putting us in a community of believers where we can be accountable. But most important is His Word which is a lamp unto our feet and light unto our paths. Yes the wicked seem to have it smooth while their riches multiply but God tells us that they have been put on slippery ground. What about you who has been following and laboring for the Lord faithfully? He has promised to lead us into a ďglorious destinyĒ (v.25, NLT). What else would a servant of the Lord want? He has promised to be our heritage. Therefore the Word of God must be the lens through which we view everything in this world else we will find ourselves faltering and being discouraged.
The psalmist comes to a very biblical conclusion (vv.25, 26). It is only a continual dependence on the forgiveness that God in Christ has secured for us that will give us joy and confidence in our lives and ministries. Yes your heart and flesh may be tempted to fail but purpose that God will be the strength of your heart and your portion forever (v.26).