Psalm 73, Christ and You – Part 3

Posted on December 23, 2008 · Posted in Culture, Holidays, Parenting, Worldview

Yet I am always with you;
       you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
       and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
       And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
       but God is the strength of my heart
       and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
       you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
       I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
       I will tell of all your deeds.  Psalm 73:23-28

Psalm 73 shows the danger that lurks for Christians when we begin to evaluate life with the same standards  that the world uses.  Using the world’s standards to be the main measure your success will bring dissatisfaction with your Christian faith. This is exactly what happened to the psalmist. His overwhelming discouragement came directly from looking at life the way God’s enemies do.  Parents, this trap lures you, too.  If you work hard at your parenting, but use the world’s standards of success, you will become like the psalmist—embittered and discouraged with life and with God. But as we have seen, God does not leave the psalmist in his despair.  Instead, He powerfully reminds the psalmist of the true nature of reality.

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

Here are some other translations of this phrase:
        But as for me, how good it is to be near God! NLT        
        But for me it is good to be near God;  ESV
        But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;  NASB

All four of these translations point to 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.  As verse 11 says, the world is interested in mocking God and ridiculing his wisdom.  Because he had entertained such thoughts, the psalmist compared himself to an unthinking animal . Verse 22 says that if you use the world’s standards to evaluate your life, you too will be senseless and ignorant. 

In profound contrast, the psalmist observes  that the nearness of God is his good!  God, Emmanuel, is with you.  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, to be 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 the gift that you can give is your joy at God's nearness.  Your spouse will sometimes fail you. Your children will often be ungrateful or selfish.  Through all of this, 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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