Bible Bites - Compare and Contrast - Psalm 37:20-22
But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish-like smoke they vanish away.
The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off. -Psalm 37:20-22
This portion of Psalm 37 shows us a great comparison between the ways of the wicked, the righteous, and their promised rewards.
The International Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) defines wicked like this, "The state of being wicked; a mental disregard for justice, righteousness, truth, honor, virtue; evil in thought and life; depravity; sinfulness; criminality."
Conversely, righteous is defined as "Just; accordant to the divine law. Applied to persons, it denotes one who is holy in heart, and observant of the divine commands in practice; as a righteous man..." It goes on to say that, "the righteous, in Scripture, denote the servants of God, the saints."
So, we see in Psalm 37:20-22 a comparison between those with a disregard for truth, justice, and honor and those who are holy in heart, servants of God. To put it more succinctly, the comparison is between those who serve themselves and those who serve God.
This would be a good time for use to take a look at our lives, our hearts and see just who it is we are serving. Are we indeed putting God and His will above our own, or are we serving ourselves, seeking after the comforts and "finer things of the world"?
Going to church or streaming a church service on Sunday does not make you righteous. Giving to the poor does not make you righteous. No act, even so-called "acts of righteousness" will make you righteous.
In Romans 3, Paul says this, "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." -Romans 3:21-26
So, we see that it is not by our own actions that we are righteous. It is a gift and received by faith in Jesus. Knowing and having faith are different things. Even the demons know that Jesus is the Son of God! True faith ALWAYS produces fruit. James 2:17 puts it this way, "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead". Faith is made complete in our works. James 2:22 continues, "You see that faith was active in his works, and faith was completed by his works;..." I encourage everyone to take a look at James 2:14-26 for more on how faith without works is dead.
A righteous person has faith in Jesus and out of love and obedience, does works that glorify God. Are we righteous? Are we both hearers and doers of the Word?
If we are, we can look forward to the blessings of the Lord and a rich inheritance. If after reflection, we see that we are not right with God, that we are living for ourselves and our desires, now is the time to get right with God; to repent and receive His forgiveness, receiving Jesus Christ into our hearts and being faithful and fruitful in our works, according to His will.
Our ways lead to death, while His ways lead to everlasting life, peace, and joy made full and complete in Him.
Father God, we thank you for your grace, and your mercies new with each morning. We thank you that your promises are always Yes and Amen in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord God and Savior!
We pray that you help us to not just be hearers of your Word, but doers, that our faith will be alive and our works be fruitful! Bless us with new hearts for You, that our greatest desire will be that your will be done in us, just as it is done in Heaven. We pray this in the mighty name of Jesus' Christ. Amen!