The Fear of the Lord (Part 2)
I had intended to deal with this Psalm in one message, but the Spirit lead me to consider this Psalm in three messages. So without wasting anymore time I want to repeat the small introduction I presented in the last message. This Psalm is about a man who fears the Lord and obeys Him and cares for his fellow men. Such a person is sure of a reward. Such a man will be able to withstand the knocks of the world and the trials and tribulations that go with it. The man who fears the Lord will be unafraid of what is before him.
The Psalmist describes the rewards in material terms, because in his day there was no real or clear concept of afterlife. The afterlife is explained in the New Testament by Jesus Himself and then by His Apostles after that. What the Psalmist is telling us is that God’s people have their full share of trouble, but are given resources to meet it.
This, in a nutshell …. What this Psalm is all about, but let us go a bit deeper into the Psalm to find out how we, today, can use this particular Psalm to help us through hard times. Nothing in God’s Word is superfluous, each word has something to tell us. We won’t be looking at each word structure but we will be looking at a group of words that convey a truth to us. I have come up with eight main truths which can be broken down into smallest sections if need be, and today we are going to stand still at verse 3 only.
3. WEALTH IS RELATIVE (verse 3)
This verse is a very interesting one because a lot has been preached on wealth and prosperity and because it is in this Psalm I have to say something about it. There are those who preach that if you give a certain amount out of your pocket you WILL receive back a hundredfold, etc. They say pray for a Mercedes, and believe in faith, then God WILL give you one.
I personally was in a service, quite a few years back, visiting a particular church when such a message was brought and the preacher called for everyone to empty their pockets into the coffer and that God would honour all who did so. I happened to have on me that morning about three hundred rand that I had to use to pay an account the next morning.
The message was so convincing that upon leaving the church I felt very guilty that I had not put it in the coffer. If I had put the money in, I would have failed in my responsibility in looking after my own household affairs. God does not want the believer to act irresponsibly. Be careful of prosperity preachers.
What does the Scripture say about wealth and possessions? Paul said in Phil. 3:7-9,, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I might gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
Jesus said in Luke 12:29-31, “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.”
It would be wise of you to study Luke 12:22-34 carefully and see what Jesus is really saying to His disciples. Read the context of this passage in Luke and do not just take a verse out of context and then try to apply it in your life. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Let me explain it another way: If God has blessed you with enough wealth you would not ask God for a Mercedes, you would go right out and buy one, and if not, then you are guilty of coveting.
An important point to remember here is that wealth is relative. Mr Oppenheimer is very rich compared to what my possessions are, yet I am absolutely rich when someone below the breadline compares himself to me, and that is why the scriptures constantly tell us to be content with what we have, and to help those who are in definite need. If you cannot afford a Mercedes, then it will only be a status symbol to you and a luxury, and that is what James is warning us about, and why Jesus said that our heart will be where our treasure is.
I can assure you that if you are not content with what you have now, then it will not take long for you to be greedy for more, and for most believers this would be a dangerous position to be in. Why? Because wealth so easily turns our heart away from Jesus. No wonder Jesus said that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. I have said this a few times before that God will only give true wealth to the believer He knows who will not be turned away from worshiping Jesus in Spirit and in truth.
Wealth on its own is not sinful, but if it turns the believer away from Jesus then it is sinful because it has now become an idol to the person possessing it. Listeners, do not be envious of other people who have more than you. They have the responsibility and all the troubles that go with it, more so if you are not aware that there are a lot of people who seem to have great wealth, but are living well beyond their means. Many of them fear the day when the doorbell will ring and their possessions taken from them to be put on auction to recover some of the debt.
God is happy with the believer who has no debt, but when the believer gets into the precarious position of buying things he knows he cannot afford or pay for, then that person must do something to get out of it quick. I had a friend who got himself into debt and for a few years nearly tore his hair out, not knowing where the next day’s food would come from. Yet this same man had a very large beautiful caravan, among other things. Only when it was suggested to him to sell the caravan to cover all the debts did he come right. You see, he had a worldly treasure that he tried to hang on to, even if he could not afford to go out in it.
I have spent longer than I had intended on this subject, but the Spirit has lead me to do so as this is a problem in many a believer’s life. We have to take stock of what our own ideas are about wealth, and then do our best to get in line with God’s wishes. Verse 3 reads, “Wealth and riches are in his house.” Because wealth is relative God promises to give the believer all that he really needs to provide for himself and his family.
In view of what I have already put to you, you will have to work the rest out for yourself. I do not know your particular circumstances, only you do! If you happen to be in financial difficulties then go in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and to help you work out your finances. When you do get a leading, then get it confirmed with your Pastor, etc, and other Spirit-filled believers, and then act accordingly.
Verse 3 is one single sentence so, if follows that the second part is coupled with and part of the first. “Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures for ever” When the believer has the right relationship with God, and the wealth and riches in his life does not interfere with his worship and reverence and the fulfilling of God’s commands, then God is faithful and just to impute to him the righteousness through the shed blood of Jesus.
What does righteousness really mean? I am sure there are many who do not quite understand what is meant by it. In its simplest form it means “doing what is right”, and this can take on many forms, depending what you take as the norm. In the sinner’s eye doing what is right is totally different from what the believer believes it to be. That is why in the New Testament it is mostly connected to the name of God or Jesus.
This sets the norm of right standing with God and Jesus and what moral laws are to be followed. Herbert Lockyer, in his book “All the doctrines of the Bible” has this to say, and I quote, “Righteousness is put to the account of a guilty sinner accepting God’s terms of salvation… God alone is able to justify a guilty sinner, and He alone can impute righteousness to one who is destitute of it ….If we are right with God we will live right before men.” Unquote.
I would like to quote Isaiah 3:10 to you in connection with the term wealth. I reads, “Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.” When the believer does his best to do whatever work is given him to the best of his ability to the glory of God and also does not fail in regularly giving of the tithe, the tenth of his gross earnings, he is doing what God wants of him, and as a result he then receives the fruit of his labour of love. Remember it says the fruit of his DEEDS. The healthy believer must not be lazy and rely on others to feed and provide him with food and sustenance.
I close with three proverbs from Solomon and they are in Proverbs 10:2-4,
(1) ill gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.
(2) The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the cravings of the wicked.
(3) Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”
Think on what has been brought to you this morning, for this has been a point on which many have blamed the Lord for, instead of putting the blame on one’s own doorstep!