The World Vs. The Word.
“Give me an eagerness for your decrees; do not inflict me with love for money! Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.” – Psalm 119:36-37 NLT
A love for the world and a love for the Word of God. Those are our two options. We can cultivate one or the other, but it is next to impossible to cultivate both and have them each equally flourish. To try and do so would be like attempting to nourish the weeds and the flowers in your garden equally. Ultimately, the weeds, if given equal right to exist in your garden, will take over completely. They will end up dominating the flowers and choking them out. Which is exactly what happens to many of us in our spiritual lives. We believe we can love the world and the Word of God equally. We can give them both a portion of our attention and affection, and we think they each will prosper. But the Psalmist knew better. He knew that a love for Gods Word was the key to life and happiness. He asks God to “Give me a bent for your words of wisdom, and not for piling up loot. Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way” (MSG). In these first 44 verses of this, the longest of the Psalms, we read over and over again of the Psalmist’s single-minded love for God and His law, found in His Word. The Psalmist speaks of God’s law, statutes, decrees, commandments, principles, and truths – all of which are found in His written Word. These are God’s spoken and written expectations of His people. They are His expressed will for the way in which we should live. They give guidance, direction, comfort, wisdom, joy, understanding, blessing, and ultimately, true happiness. What is amazing is that the world offers the same list of benefits. The only problem is, the world can’t deliver what is promises. Yet we pursue the world with a vengeance, expecting it to provide what only God Himself can provide. Sure, the world offers temporary fulfillment and what looks like happiness and joy. But it is always short-lived. The joy doesn’t last. The fulfillment never lingers.
Every one of us as Christ-followers struggles with a constant urge to love the things of this world. We spend countless hours watching media, playing games, attending sporting events, reading books, going shopping, working out – none of which is evil or inherently sinful. But how many times have we confessed that we don’t spend much time reading our Bibles, but we always seem to have time to do any and all of the above. There’s always enough time to watch a little TV at the end of the day. There’s always enough time to catch up on the latest news in the morning before starting our day. There’s always enough time to see a movie, grab a latte or read the latest best-selling book. But we just never seem to have enough time to read God’s Word. And I think the real issue is less about time than it is about the perceived benefits. For many of us, reading our Bibles does not seem to bring us much joy. It doesn’t seem to give us much insight. We’re looking for answers to life’s problems, and if we don’t get it on the first reading, then we get disappointed. But the Psalmist seemed to understand that the Word was simply a means of hearing from the one who wrote it. The commands of God were only important because they were spoken by God. They were his link to God. Do we read our Bibles that way. Do we desire to hear from God, spend time with God, listen to God? Or is our time in the Word just another task to check off our to-do list?
The Psalmist said, “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your law. I am but a foreigner here on earth; I need the guidance of your commands. Don’t hide them from me!” (Psalms 119:18-18 NLT). Do you sense the need, the longing, the dependency he had on God’s Word. He craved to hear from God. He saw himself as an alien and stranger living in a foreign land. He couldn’t make it without a word from God. Do we share that same sense of dependency and reliance? May our prayer be that of the Psalmist: “Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.”
Father, how many times I have allowed my love of the world to crowd out and displace Your Word. I confess that I have loved the world and the things it offers far more often than I have loved reading Your Word or obeying what it has to say. Give me the mindset of the Psalmist, that Your Word would become more precious to me than life itself. All because I begin to understand that Your Word is how I hear from You. It is how You have chosen to reveal Yourself to Me. Like a letter from a loved one I haven’t seen in years, it is my connection and conduit of Your expressed love to me. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men