Looking for good in the wrong places

Posted on · Posted in Culture, Worldview


If you use the world’s standards of success, you will become exactly like the psalmist in Psalm 73. His overwhelming discouragement came directly from looking at life the way God’s enemies do. What is good cannot be found by looking at our culture. Christians have a different standard for goodness:

“But as for me, it is good to be near God.”

The ultimate good for God’s people: the nearness of God!  The psalmist suddenly sees the foolishness of evaluating his life the way the world does.  He finally realizes the world is interested in mocking God and ridiculing his wisdom.  Because he had entertained such thoughts, the psalmist compared himself to an unthinking beast. If you use the world’s standards to evaluate your life, you too will be senseless and ignorant.

For example, if you measure the success of your Christmas by the number of presents under the tree, you are using a standard that will disappoint. Don’ t misunderstand! Giving gifts is a very good way to show love and appreciation. But good is defined by more than what you can wrap.

In profound contrast, the psalmist observes that the nearness of God is his good!   Because of the perfect performance of Christ, you don’t have to be worried that you must “measure up” to make God happy with you.  Even when you sin, God is there, and his nearness is your good. It is easy at Christmas time to regret all that you cannot do. It is easy to be discouraged that you cannot give the presents you would like to give. But, but there is the priceless of Christ’s love that you can give. The nearness of God is your good. Christ has paid the price for your sins.  He is your brother, your friend, your Savior, your Lord.

Many are fighting to keep Christ in Christmas.  While I understand the sentiment behind this thought, the reality is that Christ can no more be separated from his incarnation than God can be removed from the universe. It is what it is.  Christ is what he is and man can do nothing to change it. Your reason for celebration remains intact. Jesus became flesh and died for the sins of his people. The nearness of God is your good!

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.