Sunday, September 27, 2009

But if You Try Sometimes

(This essay is from my notes during a sermon at Calvary Fellowship when I visited back on August 16th. I've been saving my thoughts about that sermon for the Days of Awe because they fit the theme of these days.)

Proverbs 21:15 says Doing justice [or laws] is joy to the righteous. What does this mean?

One answer is provided in Matthew 7:24-25. When we follow God's commandments our foundation is secure. We will have troubles: Yeshua warns his followers in John 15:18-16:33 that following him will increase troubles, not reduce them. But with the right foundation and assistance we can withstand life's troubles.

But that first answer is weak. Security amidst troubles is comforting but not really joyous.

James 3:13 - 4:17 adds more. Warnings against "selfish ambition" and having "desires" for "pleasures" build up to important advice: do not have emotional investment in your plans for your future. James even says that acting as if your future plans are firm is a form of boasting!
Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.
The overall lesson is that following God's commandments will bring us joy but we cannot be picky about which joys are forthcoming or when they arrive.

This explains how the James's final sentence builds on what he wrote before it.
Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
Refraining from a good deed is sinful because holding back is being picky. We should not be picky about what will happen to us or how we get to follow God.

There is more to say, but too much more. I cannot provide a few verses and quick comments.

I can only admit that the answer seems glum so far: is God tossing us a few treats as we serve him while enduring a life of trouble? If so, it might be better to live as far from God as possible! And I can attest that Yeshua's people know better from many other passages of scripture and from many years of experience: God knows our needs and future better than we do and when follow him we are led through the best plan for our life with the most meaning and greatest joys.

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