Bread – Opposites

June 16, 2017


Psalm 70

“May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You!  May those who love Your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’  But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God!”  Ps. 70:4-5a

We have all heard the phrase, “two sides of the same coin.”  We know that “heads” and “tails” are opposites and, if we are betting, have different results, but we also recognize that they are bound together on and in the same coin.  This basic understanding has been extended to different philosophies, where there is proposed a balance in the universe, equally between good and evil, yin and yang, the good side and the dark side of the force, etc.

And one might be inclined to read the above quote from Psalm 70 and, given that David wrote the Psalm, he was expressing two opposites in his personality, one joyful and upbeat as he considered his salvation and the other “down in the mouth” as he considered his poor condition.  The question is, is joy the opposite of depression?

I think the answer to this question is “yes” from one perspective and “no” from another.

When is it “yes?”  When joy and depression are opposites is when man is in control of both.  If we are to look for the measurement solely to our feeling, what we think, how we behave, then clapping your hands in gladness is certainly the opposite of wringing your hands in despair.  In the first instance, we feel upbeat and ready to take on the world.  In the second instance, we feel downbeat and ready to retreat from the world.  Both are our feelings, and joy and depression cannot occupy the same feeling space.  One crowds out the other.  They are opposites.

When is it “no?”  When the Lord is involved.  When God is in our life, is possible to say “I am poor and needy” and “Praise be to God” in the same breath.  It is possible because, by saying we are poor and needy, we are accurately describing our situation.  When we say “Praise be to God” we are accurately describing the source of our overcoming power.

What is the combination of depression and joy in the Christian life?  It is hope.

When we acknowledge Christ as Savior and King, we become new.  And this newness is a transformation of opposites into wholeness.  Oh, it takes a while for the complete integration to occur, and for most of us will take our entire lives.  But when we become Jesus’ sheep, the sheep of His pasture, we no longer have to suffer the opposites of feeling good or feeling bad, because we now have hope.

So, was this juxtaposition of David between joy and being poor and needy an expression of opposites?  No, it was an expression of God’s involvement continuousy in all circumstances to bring about His purposes and His glory.  In these verses, God is present.  He is present in the praises and He is present in the delivery from David’s poor condition.

The expression of “Help me … Praise You!” is not an expression of opposites but an expression of unity of spirit and the ascendancy of hope, a gift from God.

“Help me … Praise You!” is merely an expression of a great truth … we are radically poor and radically saved, all at the same time with the grace and mercy of God.

In Christ, with the flip of the coin we have heads I win and tails I win too.  It is the same coin, but it is different than it was.  So are we, in Christ.

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© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

Bread – Responsibility

November 16, 2016


Psalm 41

“Blessed is the one who considers the poor!”  Ps. 41:1

In my political circles, liberty is quite often spoken about, as well as individual responsibility.  And, yet, how many of us who claim to be Christian actually considers the poor?

What I mean by this is not promotion of social programs which create so-called “safety nets” or which provide “sustenance” living to the poor, whether that living be by way of food, transportation, shelter, or cell phones.  It is very easy to be righteous with someone else’s money.  I can be gracious and spend tons of money through hundreds of “programs” designed to “take care of” the poor, if it is your money I am spending.  The fact is, our “Christian” endeavors often find their way to influencing our government to do for others (and therefore for us) what we should be doing ourselves.

When I vote for a government program to feed the poor, I can say with a straight face (at least to myself and others, but probably not to God) that I “considered the poor,” while not having spent either time or treasure in doing so.

What is the chicken and what is the egg?  Do we have government programs because Christians have not exercised their responsibility to consider the poor, even within their own congregations?  Or have Christians become weak in their consideration of the poor because it is so easy to say, “Oh, they’ll handle it,” or “Oh, we have a government program for that.”

Perhaps worse, I have focused this discussion so far on things, on money and financial support.  But what about love, the kind of love which causes us to depart from our agenda and listen to someone else?  What do we do to put ourselves in the place of the poor where we can engage them as brothers and sisters, either in Christ or needing Christ?

Well, we all sin and fall short and I definitely come within the category of “all” on this one.  If you do a self-assessment, you probably do too.

Why are those who consider the poor blessed?  Is it because they have obeyed and are therefore rewarded?  I think not.  I think it has more to do with baskets.  If I take what is in my basket and give it to someone else, I now have an empty basket for the Lord to fill – and we call that filling a blessing.  If my basket is already full with stuff which I claim is mine, then where is the room for the blessing?

We are coming upon times of the year when we are acutely aware of our blessings.  Let’s give them away to someone else so that we will become even more acutely aware of how truly dependent we are upon Him Who creates, Who reigns, Who saves, and Who supplies our every need.  Let us make room to receive our blessing by being a blessing to others who need it more.

Let us consider the poor.

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© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

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