|n his 1958 book Reflections on the Psalms, in a chapter titled ”Sweeter Than Honey,” C.S. Lewis considers what the Psalms say about the Law of God. Among other things, he considers Psalm 119, “the Psalm specially devoted to the Law,”1 and compares the good and true way of God versus rival ways of life. An excerpt follows.
In the final paragraph of the chapter, Lewis observed that “[i]n so far as this idea of the Law’s beauty, sweetness, or preciousness, arose from the contrast of the surrounding Paganisms, we may soon find occasion to recover it. Christians increasingly live on a spiritual island; new and rival ways of life surround it in all directions and their tides come further up the beach every time.”3 Let us be thankful that wherever our culture goes, we can depend on the truth of Holy Scripture.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
PSALM 119:105 (ESV)
1 C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (A Harvest Book/Harcourt, Inc.), p. 58.
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Positions about being right can be held like possessions that are dear to our hearts.
But is it for our good and does it bring us closer to God? Is it possible that the need to be right, especially in times that can feel so ‘out of control’ can actually separate us from the very help from God that we are seeking and deeply needing? What possesses our hearts will own us. Then it controls us and our lives.
Righteousness and Being Right
In today’s world, it appears acceptable to feel “right” yet no one wants to claim the possibility that we might actually be moralizing. It seems to be everywhere. Being true to something is different than being right. True means being devoted or being loyal to something that you believe in. That can be “positional” based upon your beliefs. We all admire that quality but start to argue about what truth is and what to be loyal to.
Being right is entirely different. It is a moral point. Right and wrong go deeper than cultural or historical or even personal beliefs. (For the sake of this writing)
Moralizing is the very common action of personally commenting either to ourselves or to others about what is right and wrong. Is anyone immune? Be honest. We see it constantly in the world around us. It appears to be encouraged. It becomes easy to gather momentum with a sense of right and wrong. Moralizing is judging. It casts ourselves as superior, as the one with the power to weigh right and wrong. When we do that to ourselves and to others it is equally wrong.
Romans 13:13 -“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
Matthew 7:1-5 -“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Can our Judgements Possess us?
Have you had an experience when afterward you reviewed it to yourself and decided that someone or something was “right” and the other was “wrong”, and you placed yourself in the role of the commentator or judge? As the judge didn’t you feel that you had compiled knowledge about the subject? From that did you eventually feel wiser. Then comes a sense of relief, perhaps even satisfaction. But did the issue feel resolved? Maybe not. It may have recirculated. This can happen to us.
We review and review. As judges, the “court” of appeals is never over. Have you noticed that? We, as moralizers and arbitrators of right and wrong, are imperfect judges. We weigh with mortal hearts. We make ourselves the “eye” of the righteous one.
Proverbs 21:2 -“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”
Romans 2:1 – “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”
Matthew 12:36 -“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”
The reason for that is because when we judge, we are stepping away from our purpose. We slip into moralizing and into pride. We lose grace. We step away from our relationship with God because we start to make little gods of ourselves. We make ourselves the ones that try to control the Outcomes. When we insist on making things right and wrong, especially taking sides in the arena of life we are literally lowering ourselves into a battleground that is not “ours to fight”.
Finding our way Back
1 Peter 3:4 -“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.”
Philippians 2:3 -“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
The rights and wrongs of this world are injustices that are seen by the Eyes of God. When we are appointed to speak out, and those moments will be known to us vividly and boldly, God will lovingly supply the moment, the words and the message.
Psalm 34:15 -“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.”
1 Corinthians 16:13 -“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 -“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
That is different than judging and moralizing by a longshot, don’t you agree? Can you tell the difference in your own life, in your own world? We are asked to be merciful and to trust that the Lord is with us and will not forsake us. We are not to fear or to be dismayed.
When we trust that the Lord goes before us, that He prepares the hours, the days and each detail of our lives – we can rest in faith. We live in trust in God. Then, we stand firm in Faith.
Standing Firm in Faith
In Corinthians we are reminded to be watchful, to stand firm in our faith and to be strong! When Psalm 34 says that the eyes of the Lord are towards the righteous it means that those that serve the Lord are called into obedience to His Law. It asks that we submit our hearts before God at all times for review, asking for his blessings in obedience to the laws of forgiveness and with the observance of His sovereignty in justice and mercy.
We place the desire for righteousness in the space that is reserved for the invocation of God . In that sacred and holy place where we are meant to step back and understand that we do not have the power to make all things right, that God is sovereign even when This World appears to be moving ‘out of tilt’ with what makes sense to us, it may be the very moment of opportunity for a door to open that we ourselves by our own power could not.
Invoking the Righteousness of God
Galatians 6:9 -“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
1 Peter 3:14 -“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.”
Psalm 112:6 -“For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.”
Proverbs 21:3 -“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
The biblical definition of Righteousness is that it is one of the chief attributes of God as portrayed in the Hebrew Bible. Its chief meaning concerns ethical conduct (for example, Leviticus 19:36; Deuteronomy 25:1; Psalm 1:6; Proverbs 8:20). In the Book of Job the title character is introduced to us as a person who is perfect in righteousness.
What is suggested is that rather than acting from our moralizing which encourages us to step away from God by creating a false right and wrong of our own, we lean into the character of God, beholding His holy righteousness.
Acts 18:9-10 –“And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
Colossians 3:12-14 -“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.
God’s holy presence shows us that He embodies forgiveness. How can we hold one another as right and wrong in our hearts and also behold Him as Forgiveness? When we see how much we have been forgiven ourselves, it becomes very difficult to view others, even the world through such a lens of right and wrong.
Yielding to the Power of Forgiveness and Love
We yield the perspective back to God, who surely must be the One WHO sees and KNOWS, the One that has prepared a way for us all to walk forward. I pray that we can each prepare our heart to receive His Blessing and live our lives boldly and courageously so that we are led to participate in that Holy plan. We each have a way to walk in it. Only the Lord can impart that to you.
The only one that must Possess your Heart is God.
© 2019 Linda Willows