When the Rubber Hits the Road

 

 

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When the Rubber Hits the Road

Dr Alex Tang

How to be a Christian in a Wicked World

Text: Psalm 37: 1-9

Summary

It is possible to live a Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit in trusting, delighting, committing, and be patient in the Lord in a wicked and evil world.

 

Text: Psalm 37: 1-9

  PS 37:1 Do not fret because of evil men

    or be envious of those who do wrong;

  PS 37:2 for like the grass they will soon wither,

    like green plants they will soon die away.

  PS 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good;

    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

  PS 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD

    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

  PS 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD;

    trust in him and he will do this:

  PS 37:6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,

    the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

  PS 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;

    do not fret when men succeed in their ways,

    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

  PS 37:8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;

    do not fret--it leads only to evil.

  PS 37:9 For evil men will be cut off,

    but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

Introduction

All fans of Formula One racing will know that winning a race is the combination of the driver, the maintenance team and the design of the car. Even though the driver seems to get all the glory, it all goes back to the design of the car. Nowadays car designs are very dependent on computer modeling- the aerodynamics, the cooling system, the capacity of the engine, the air-fuel mix, and the weight of the car. However, no matter how el designed is the car, it will prove itself only when you get it on the road and drive. Hence when the rubber/tire hits the road. This is the same with our Christian life. No matter how much we memorized and study the Bible, how much we pray, and how much fellowship we have with our church, the test of our Christian living is in the world.

Psalm 37 has an acrostic structure. It begins each stanza with the Hebrew alphabet. This helps the students in memorizing the psalm.  This psalm is considered part of the wisdom literature, like the book of Proverbs. Its purpose is not so much to teach theology, but rather practical living. It is a psalm about how to live. And this is particularly relevant to us today as we seek to live a Christian life in a world turned upside down.

How do you live in a world where the evil seems to triumph and the good seems insignificant? Is it possible to live a Christian life in a wicked world? When the tire hits the road, can our Christian principles hold?

  PS 37:1 Do not fret because of evil men

    or be envious of those who do wrong;

  PS 37:2 for like the grass they will soon wither,

    like green plants they will soon die away.

There is the natural temptation to be upset and envious at the success of evil people, especially when living a moral life creates hardship. We look around and we see people whom we know to lie, steal, and cheat driving around in luxuries continental cars and live in large mansions. And they seem to get away with it. We know of evil persons who cause untold suffering and death of millions of people like Pol Pot of Cambodia and Mao Ze Dong of China dying of old age! The normal axiom is that the “good die young.” Why should the good die young? Shouldn’t the good live longer? Where is the justice in that? Prov. 24:19-20

PR 24:19 Do not fret because of evil men

    or be envious of the wicked,

  PR 24:20 for the evil man has no future hope,

    and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

But their success is superficial and not to be envied, for having no deep roots, they shrivel up as soon as testing comes along.

So how do we then live in this unjust world? Do we throw away our principles and jump in the in the murk? And if we want to live a Christian life, is there any way we can do that without failing? I believe that the psalmist had given us the answer in this section of this great wisdom psalm. The audience of this psalm also lives in times like us. Times where evil people are in control, where cheating and stealing are common, where injustices are common, and where it is difficult to live according to Godly principles, especially in the business world.

(1) Trust in the Lord (v.3)

  PS 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good;

    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Evil people tend to trust in their wealth, power, or connections. The righteous shall trust in the Lord.

Prov. 3: 5-6

  PR 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart

    and lean not on your own understanding;

  PR 3:6 in all your ways acknowledge him,

    and he will make your paths straight.

Trusting in the Lord is very important. That is the basis of our belief. If you do not trust in the Lord, there is no point in talking about living a Christian life. One of the greatest examples of trust is the flying trapeze in a circus act. In the act, they will launch themselves into thin air and trust their friend or partner in the other trapeze will catch them in time. That’s absolute trust. This is especially so when they are doing it without net. There is no room for mistake, or a bad hair day. One mistake and they fall plunging into the hard ground below. I always look at trust in the Lord that way. Are we willing to launch ourselves into the air without a safety net below, trusting God to be there to catch our outstretched hands? That is trust.

(2) Delight in the Lord (v.4)

  PS 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD

    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 Evil people tends to live for themselves and fulfill their basest desire, the righteous shall delight in the presence of the Lord.

Together with trust is joy. Trusting the Lord will give us joy. Joy is different from happiness. If you give me a million dollars or a big house, I will be happy. However that happiness is transient. It disappears when the income tax man come to audit me or the land office demand payment of the quit rent. Joy, however persists in spite of circumstances. We can have joy in the most perverse of situations. This joy comes as a delight in the Lord. What is the purpose of our existence? Why are we here? We are here because God loves us. And we are here because God wants us to be his partners or co-creators for the redemption of this creation.

Prov. 8:30-31

PR 8:30 Then I was the craftsman at his side.

  I was filled with delight day after day,

    rejoicing always in his presence,

  PR 8:31 rejoicing in his whole world

    and delighting in mankind.

(3) Commit to the Lord (v.5,6)

  PS 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD;

    trust in him and he will do this:

The act of trust and commitment acts like trigger, releasing God’s capacity to act. Commitment is a conscious decision. Like Peter Parker in Spider-man 2, life is a choice. He has received awesome powers- the strength of ten men, the ability to climb walls, shoot webs from his wrists, and swing from buildings to buildings. However, he has to choose to continue to be Spiderman, or to be a normal person by not using his powers. He wants to live a normal life and marry his sweetheart, Mary Jane. . Aunt May Parker said, "I believe there's a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble. And finally gets us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want most, even our dream." Peter decides to become that hero. He has made his choice and commitment.

Prov. 16:3

  PR 16:3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,

    and your plans will succeed.

  PR 16:4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends--

    even the wicked for a day of disaster.

  PS 37:6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,

    the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

The conviction in v.6 is that the setbacks are only temporary, like clouds obscuring the sun. Eventually God will move the clouds away and true light will appear.

(4) Be Still before the Lord (v.7-9)

  PS 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;

    do not fret when men succeed in their ways,

    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

  PS 37:8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;

    do not fret--it leads only to evil.

PS 37:9 For evil men will be cut off,

    but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

 This verse advocate patience, not achieved by observing the instant-success schemes of this world, but by learning to wait on God’s appropriate timing.

The type of anger highlighted here is ‘anger against God’. This anger arises from the experience of trouble in the world where the evil people are evidently trouble-free, and the consequences of human experiences seem grossly unfair. Again, patience is encouraged because this type of anger is futile, because it will only bring grief to them. And also the evil will eventually cut off (as the Canaanites before them) and the faithful shall inherit the land (as their predecessor did).

Prov.16:32

PR 16:32 Better a patient man than a warrior,

    a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

Can we learn to look at the world through the Lord’s eyes? Can we look at the world through the Lord’s timing. Even though evil flourish, it will be only for a while. In God’s own timing (which may be different from ours), justice will be done.

Conclusion: How to be Christian in a Wicked World

  We can be Christians in a wicked world by

  • Trusting the Lord

·         Delighting in the Lord

·         Commitment to the Lord

·         Be patient in the Lord

This is not easy but can be done. That is because we have the Holy Spirit to help us. Today is Pentecost Sunday (27 May 2007). About two thousand years ago, on a day like today, the Holy Spirit came like flames of fire and fill all Christians, empowering them to be witnesses and to live as Christians in wicked world.

Acts 2:1-4

AC 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

 It is possible to live a Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit in trusting, delighting, committing, and be patient in the Lord in a wicked and evil world.

Soli Deo Gloria

 

|posted 18 June 2007|

               

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