The horrors of evil elicit many different responses when they fall upon our ears. When you read my article of Boko Haram butchering Christians in Nigeria last week, I’m sure your thought responses were as varied as is our reading population. I’m sure it was the same when you heard of ISIS beheading a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff. Or when you heard of any act of evil carried out on the innocent in recent days.
Some people stop listening / reading as the pain and suffering are more than they can bear.
A need to fight for justice overcomes other people in the face of evil.
Others bury their heads in the sand as they deny such evil could possibly exist.
For some, frustration mounts as a lack of resources or opportunities squelches the desire to help in any way possible.
Hopefully at least a few whisper prayers for those who hurt in the hands of evil.
Psalm 37 – Good & Evil
Last week we began a study on Psalm 37. We considered some characteristics we should have as we live as children of God in a world of evil. Ok, “considered” is such a gentle word – it’s more like those characteristics plunged into our soul. They reminded us we aren’t of this world; we’re made to live different. This week we’ll pull out some parts of Psalm 37 that help us know what to do before we read next week what God promises to do. Then, we’ll wrap it up comparing the outcome that awaits both the good and the evil.
What to do in a world of evil
37:3 – Trust in the Lord and do what is good. Trusting God empowers us to do what is good. Our excuses become weak in the presence of His truth. I came across a verse a few weeks ago when Jimmy was in Africa. I’ll admit it; I was stressing a little over some stuff. I had to write it out and post it where I’d see it often, “God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
We can trust Him in the face of evil; we can even step out and do good in the face of evil. We can trust and do good because God has the situation under control. We will always have everything we need to excel in every good work.
37:4 – Take delight in the Lord. You can be happy in His presence; you can smile when you think about Him. Excitement can come over you at the thought of talking to Him. You can find a true relationship.
King David, who wrote Psalm 37, knew how to delight in the Lord. For example, he also wrote “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’” (Psalm 122:1). The ancient Israelites rejoiced to ascend to the Temple in Jerusalem because the Spirit of God dwelt there. For us, the Spirit of God dwells within each of us as followers of Christ. We can rejoice in a relationship with God even in the midst of an evil world.
37:5 – Commit your way to the Lord. Commit means “to roll” (Hebrew: galal) which may seem odd but is highly significant. It’s more than I can get into here. In short, let’s think of it this way… Go full circle with God. Allow Him to mark you as His child, hold fast to His truth, totally believe Him, and not just in Him.
“The LORD then said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away (Hebrew: galal) the disgrace of Egypt from you.’ Therefore, that place is called Gilgal to this day” (Joshua 5:9). Friend, God has rolled away the disgrace from your life. An adequate response is to roll away your own plans for your life. Commit your way to Him instead and allow Him to act even as evil abounds.
37:7 – Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him. God doesn’t need us to tell Him what to do or how to solve a problem. He needs us to be a willing vessel through which He can work to accomplish His plan. He needs us to wait on His plan; not make a mess even messier by jumping in with our own plan. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10 NIV).
37:9, 34 – Put your hope in the Lord. That’s the HCSB version but almost all others translate this as “those who wait for the Lord.” It’s a figurative term that loses something in our English translations. The Hebrew word, qavah, literally means to collect or bind together. It’s the same idea as strands of string bound together to make a rope. In a world of evil, we can bind ourselves to God. We can tightly intertwine our lives with Him and His Word. “Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land” (Psalm 37:34).
37:27 – Turn away from evil and do what is good. We can’t do all these things if we haven’t turned away from the evil in our own lives. We’re not perfect; no one expects us to be. But, we can make a conscious effort to remove the evil in our own lives while also making an effort to do what is good. "Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God" (3 John 1:11).
As it turns out, we can do something in a world overrun by evil. We can trust God who is in control. We can do good to those around us in our own corners of the world. We can delight in God; after all, He loved us enough to give Himself for us even though we were part of that prevalent evil. We can roll away our own plans for our life and commit our plans to Him because we know He will act in our lives. We can wait for Him to speak rather than try and tell Him what He should do. We can intertwine our lives with Him so that all we do and say is for Him and His glory. We can do our best to not live like those who spread the evil upon our land.
We can make a difference. We can live the difference.
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