The Good Thing
From Psalm 16
Too often, I view the Lord as a means to an end. Here are the words I don’t say out loud:
Lord, I’m going to church and studying and not watching rated-R movies because I want You to reward me. I want You to give me what I want.
Or maybe this:
Lord, I don’t get it. Didn’t I do what You asked? Didn’t I go above and beyond, actually, visiting that person and giving to that cause, and why didn’t You come through? Why didn’t You give me that opportunity or promotion or _______? Why didn’t You spare me from this injury or struggle or loss?
Too often, I serve the Lord so He will grant me a favor. But here’s what David reminded me in Psalm 16 this week:
“The Lord is all I need. He takes care of me. … Being with you will fill me with joy; at your right hand I will find pleasure forevermore.” (vv. 5, 11 NCV)
Said another way, the Lord is the favor.
Here’s what I tend to believe: serving the Lord will get me good things. I serve Him, and I get good health and have plenty of money and am granted opportunities to do things I want to do. And look, this is partly true. Those things might actually happen. God, after all, really is a Good Giver, and like a doting Father, He loves to give His children not only the bare minimum, but what they want. What they like. What they desire. (See Matthew 7:11 and Psalm 37:4.)
So those things might happen—for a season or two, or ten. But then, suddenly, one of the good things, or a couple of the good things, or all of the good things (think Job) are taken away. This is the part of the story that reveals the second half (the problem half) of what I believe: serving the Lord will get me good things, and good things are what I need.
Here’s the truth: “The Lord is all I need” (Psalm 16:5).
Do you see the difference? When I realize the Lord is all I need—the Lord is the Good Thing—then I’m free to let Him be a Good Giver. But I’m also free to let Him be a Good Taker. Good things—health, wealth, favors—can come and go freely because I know the ultimate Good Thing is secure:
“Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
He knows when I need the little-g good thing and when I don’t. This doesn’t make the losing easy. But it means, even in seasons of losing, I can be content. Paul said it like this:
“I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13)
Good things are great. Give thanks for your seasons of good health, and good work opportunities, and good friendships, and good days. But friend, don’t stop there. You can give thanks always (Philippians 4:6). Why? Because no matter what, nothing and no one and never-ever will anything take away your Good Thing.
Next Week’s Reading: Psalm 18–24.