Our pastor started a new study on the book of Jude on Sunday. He started out by describing two ways of studying the Bible: like taking a train ride through the mountains, or like taking a picnic in the middle of the mountains. Both very good and needful, but very different perspectives. Over the last three years I've taken train rides through the Bible, trying to read it through chronologically each year and get the whole Bible read, which is more like the train ride. It's been really great for me to not skip over parts I don't love, to have to read it all, to not just keep to my favorite books. But this year I'm feeling drawn to some picnics. Some feasting for awhile. The Lord has had me feasting on Psalm 37 for weeks. It's been so rich! There's still so much to verse 3 that I would like to share. :)
The first part of the verse says "Trust in the Lord and do good." I think we all know what it means to trust in the Lord, to lean on and rely on Him. "And" is a linking word, so while we are trusting and waiting, there's stuff to do. It's not a passive trusting. When I read "Do good", I immediately thought of Ephesians 2:10, which says that we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works". I looked up "good" in the Greek since that's the common word, and it's the word agathos, which means profitable, useful, beneficial to others; in contrast to kalos, which is constitutionally good but not necessarily benefitting others. Agathos is active goodness. It is not just a being good, but a doing good. Hebrews 13 reminds us "not to forget to do good and share" (verse 16), and to work what is well-pleasing in His sight (verse 21). 1 Thessalonians 1:3 says that there is a work of faith, a labor of love. James 2 says that faith without works is dead. 1 John 3 tells us to love in deed and action, not just in word. There is stuff He wants us to DO in the trusting and waiting and dwelling. The famous hall of faith in Hebrews 11 has a pattern that goes, "By faith ___ did ______". By faith Noah built. By faith Abram went. And there is a wonderful promise in Galatians 6:9-10: "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." The essence of trusting while doing: not growing weary, knowing we will reap if we do not lose heart. Trust in the Lord and do good.
The second part of the verse says, "Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness/feed on His faithfulness." :) Your land is wherever God has you at the moment. And even if it is a place of captivity, or not the place you want to be, He still has instructions for that land too. Check out Jeremiah 29:4-9. We all love Jeremiah 29:11, but there are some great verses leading up to it. God's people had been taken into captivity in Babylon. They were not in the place of blessing and prosperity and promise where they wanted to be. Yet God's instructions were to keep on keepin' on. He told them to be increased there and not diminished. He told them to seek the peace of the city where they were. . . "for in its peace you will have peace." Read those verses; that's another study entirely. :) But what we can take from it to apply to Psalm 37:3 is that while we are dwelling in any land, in any circumstance, we are to keep pressing on. Not wishing for another land or another set of circumstances, but increasing in that land. And the seeking of the peace of the city is an active doing good, an agathos of active goodness for the benefit of the very place and people you are dwelling around. Cultivate faithfulness in that place. When God told Abram in Genesis 15 that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky, He also told him that those descendants would live in captivity for 400 years before they are set free. 400 years! Remembering that gave me hope. There are things I am praying for my children that I haven't seen come to fruition yet. I'm pretty sure my parents prayed for me to love God's Word, but they only saw bits and pieces of fruit from that prayer until the last 5-6 years. I'm so glad they didn't stop praying for it. I'm going to keep praying for my children to love God's Word, knowing that they may be in their 20's before I see it. All the while we will be feeding on His faithfulness. Have you ever heard the song "Never Once" by Matt Redman? He's looking back on a difficult time and saying, "Never once did we ever walk alone, never once did you leave us on our own, You are faithful, God you are faithful." No matter what my life is going to hold from here on out, I know today that at the end of it I can sing that song. No matter what the trials are going to be, there WILL be a day when I can look back and say, "Never once did I ever walk alone. You are faithful, God, you are faithful!!" Check out Psalm 92:1-2. We have that on the walls of our home. "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night." The Psalmist declares that every night, we will be able to declare His faithfulness in the previous day. What a promise!
"Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness." Psalm 37:3