Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness,
According to my cleanness in His eyes.
“With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd
You will save the humble people;
But Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down. ~ 2 Sam. 25-28
Many times we reduce God to a cosmic vending machine, existing only to meet our needs, answer our prayers, give us what we want when we want it and stay out of our way when we are done. We essentially deny His Spirit in our services, embracing liturgy and tradition over communion and intimacy; or worse, we demand He “perform” for us with signs and wonders in our two-hour window on Sundays without spending any time with Him in secret. We try to minister to others without investing ourselves in His Presence. All the while, He longs for intimacy.
Sometimes the Lord lets us go through seasons where it seems like everyone around us wants or expects something from us–the high demand job, the clamoring children, the over-stressed spouse, the myriad of individuals asking for advice, and so on. Such seasons leave us with two choices. We may either lose all taste for ministry and have a crisis of faith, or we may allow them to drive us into the lonely place with God. It is compelling that Jesus earnestly sought the wilderness and chose prayer over a platform as often as He could.
The two-fold beauty and terror of 2 Samuel 22 is that God’s approach to us correlates to our approach to Him. The more we demand that to which we feel entitled, the more apt He is to allow us what we deserve. Our mercy and gentleness toward others translates to His mercy and gentleness poured over us.
David Pawson preached a sermon recently about the parable of the laborers in the vineyard in Matthew 20. The workers who worked all day received the same wage as those who the landowner hired at the end of the day. Pawson brings out that God, who is rich in mercy, chooses to sometimes give us what we do not deserve because of the greatness of that mercy. For this reason, it is essential that we extend mercy to others, for we all have fallen far short of His standard for us. However, to rely on Christ’s mercy without seeking to live a righteous life is to fall into a sloppy grace that is far from the Father’s desire for us. Grace that does not propel us into Christlikeness is merely spiritual apathy–a teasing of the boundaries to see how much we can do without “losing salvation.”
What would Christianity look like if we saw God for who He is? JD and I started this morning discussing the greatness of His sovereignty–how He is uncreated and how He was throughout eternity, even before He created the throne room and the angels who fall before Him and cry out at His holiness. In our “but dust,” finite, futile minds, we think we can be cunning and surprise the One who created all of our rational thought and ability to reason. Do we fully understand the horror of being one with whom God shows Himself shrewd? Yet we try to convince ourselves that He doesn’t see or isn’t offended by our blatant disregard for His standards for our lives. Oh, that we would understand how far above our thoughts are His and that His ways and plans for us are not harsh requirements but love-sick empowerments.
Holy Spirit, let us know You rightly that we may love You more.