Friday, August 11, 2006

What do I care what other people think? Well, I do care...

One of the reasons I love the Bible is that it is so realistic. Although we shouldn't care too much about what other people think and see, the Bible recognizes that we can't stop caring at least a little:

How great is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you,
which you bestow in the sight of men
on those who take refuge in you.

Psalm 31.19

Here is King David talking about the mountains of blessings God has in store for us, and how he blesses us with them "in the sight of men." So, why does David say that? And why does God do that?

Here's what I think. David says this because it's a nice thing to be vindicated by God in front of others. It was a great blessing in his life when God lifted him up, preserved his life, and made him famous in Israel. And he knows it'll be a comfort to generations yet unborn that God blesses his beloved (that's us) in front of others. David's faith is not a secret, private thing, but something that brings him blessing in a way others can see.

And I think God does that both because he wants us to also enjoy the blessing of receiving [other] blessings in front of others, and also because he likes showing his generosity and his blessings to humanity. In other words, it brings glory to God to bless us in front of others.

And luckily for me, God does not require someone to be strong or wise or perfect in order to bless him: But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1.27)

Now what about the condition? He says he bestows these blessings "on those who take refuge in you." What does that mean? Here's my take on it. When we're in trouble, where do we seek comfort and reassurance? I'm sure you know of people who distract themselves with media or entertainment. You may know of people who glory in their past accomplishments or rejoice in their bank accounts (either literal or figurative). But if instead I rejoice in knowing that I'm a child of God, if I take comfort in knowing that my life is in the hands of a merciful and trustworthy and loving and just God, that his grace is sufficient for me... that's taking refuge in God. That brings glory to him too, especially when I can do it in the presence of others.

Which reminds me... there's another translation, probably the New American Standard Bible (NASB), which renders that verse
...which You bestow on those who take refuge in you in the sight of men.
I'm not sure it's better than the NIV, but it does provide that other slant.

And if I'm not willing to show others my faith, my identity as a child of God, it probably means there's something I need to change -- something I probably need help from God to do.

posted 8/14

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