When you look around and see the ungodly prospering and others living any way they want, have you ever wondered, does being good matter? Why do some people seem to have no remorse for the way they live and even mock those who try to live right … and get away with it?
Jeremiah 49 & 50
Does Being Good Matter?
Does It Really Matter?
“Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.”
But it doesn’t always seem that way.
In Psalm 73 the psalmist looked around and saw the ungodly prospering and, at one point said, “Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain …”
Have you ever felt that way? Like you are being good for nothing and that it doesn’t really matter?
Maybe you’re remaining sexually pure and waiting on God’s choice of a mate, while people all around you are getting married, including those who have lived immoral lives.
Maybe you just get by financially while you see unbelievers prospering. Or while you have integrity on the job, others get promoted.
Maybe you took your kids to church and tried to raise them right, yet they have chosen to go their own way.
Things like that can be discouraging in the short run, but as Psalm 73 goes on:
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God;
Then I understood their end.
18 Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.
As someone said, the ungodly have about 15 minutes in relationship to eternity to get all the gusto, all the pleasure, all the money and all the success, they can. Because one day, often sooner than any of us think, it’s all over! What will it be worth then?
In the New Testament Jesus told the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:
9 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’”
It was too late for the rich man. Things looked good for him on earth, but that was it. There was no second chance to get it right. This is an important truth to remember when we are tempted to envy and self-pity!
On the other hand, as the psalmist remembered:
25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
26 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;
You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
28 But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
That I may declare all Your works (Ps. 73).
Today’s Other Readings:
Jeremiah 49 & 50:
Future Judgment on Babylon
God continues to reveal future events through His prophet Jeremiah. In chapter 50 He turns His attention to Babylon. Even though He would allow Babylon to discipline His people, He did not excuse their sinful, idolatrous behavior. So even before the conquest of Judah was complete, He announced His future judgment on Babylon herself. The near fulfillment would take place when Cyrus, king of the Medes and Persians, conquered Babylon in 539 B.C., but the prophecy also has a yet future fulfillment which will take place near the second coming of Christ.
Foolishness to Those Who Are Perishing
Repeatedly the psalmist asks God for understanding concerning His precepts. Without God’s help through the indwelling Holy Spirit, it is impossible to understand spiritual truths. The Word of God is foolishness to those who are perishing (those who are not saved). But to those who believe, it is the power of God for salvation (1 Cor. 1.18)—not just the one time regeneration that makes us His children—but the ongoing blessings and continuing work of God and His Word in our lives.
So the next time you are mocked or criticized for what you believe, remember that and don’t be surprised. We shouldn’t be surprised when lost, broken sinners act like it. If anything, it should cause us to pray that they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil who has held them captive to do his will (2 Tim. 2.26) and that they would turn to the Lord and be saved (1 Tim. 2.1-4).
Snapshot of a Leader
This little epistle is packed with information. Here in chapter 1 Paul gives us a snapshot of a godly leader. The word used here can be translated pastor, elder or bishop.
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict (vss. 5-9).
Our church leaders, though not perfect, should be mature believers, able to exercise self-control, not easily angered, living a lifestyle that would not bring reproach on the church or the name of Christ. They should know God’s Word and be able to share it with others and to lovingly confront and exhort when necessary.
The phrase “the husband of one wife” does not mean that a man can never be divorced, but it literally means “a one woman man.” He cannot have multiple wives.
That does not mean that it is permissible for a pastor or elder to divorce his wife and continue to serve in that office. Divorce is biblically allowable for a believer in only two situations: the sexual immorality of the other partner (Matt. 5.31-32) and when an unbeliever departs from a marriage (1 Cor. 7.15). Seeking an unbiblical divorce would disqualify him from leadership.
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about the basics of the Christian life, national sin, the loss of restraining grace, putting your past behind you and more.
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