So many of the Psalms are “feel good” in nature. We can trust in God, He is our joy, our strength, etc.
Psalms 36, however, does not begin with such a message. Rather, it is a message for the wicked… But more on that later.
Back in the earlier days of COVID-19, we saw two camps of people: Those who followed regulations and did what they could to protect themselves and others, and those who didn’t follow these regulations because they took away personal freedom.
It is true that one could empathize with both groups. Yes, the regulations were there to protect people from each other, but yes, those regulations did take away personal freedoms!
As a result, we saw many people staying home, wearing masks, social distancing, etc. We also saw groups of people demonstrating against masks, and we saw house parties, gatherings, etc., that broke all regulations.
Even though I did say we could empathize with both groups, I cannot say that both groups were right. The truth of the matter is that both groups could not be right. Either you were right to protect others by following directions, or you were right to stand up for your own rights and liberties.
So who was right and who was wrong?
Now some of you may be getting upset at this point, for you are thinking that I am about to point the finger at one side or the other. The purpose of this devotional, however, is not to point the finger at anyone. The goal is not to make “maskers” strip off their masks, and it is not to make “anti-maskers” put them on. It is simply to get all of us, “maskers” and “anti-maskers” alike to ask ourselves a key question: What was our true motivation for our decision?
Why is this such a vital question? The answer lies in Psalms 36:
“I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes. In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good. Even on their beds they plot evil; they commit themselves to a sinful course and do not reject what is wrong.” (Psalms 36:1-4 NIV)
Here we see that the “wicked” are described as having “no fear of God”, as those who “in their own eyes … flatter themselves too much…” As a result of the self-focus, the “wicked” are rendered unable to, “detect…sin”, or even to “hate…sin”, especially their own! And because they look only to themselves, “…they commit themselves to a sinful course and do not reject what is wrong.” But then, how can someone reject something as wrong when self-focus causes them to be unable to even detect sin?
The question we must all ask ourselves is this: In my decision to either wear or not wear a mask, to respect or not respect social distancing, to follow or not to follow the rules about gathering sizes, was my purpose to look out for myself? Or to look out for others in love?
Again, please do not think I am pointing the finger at anyone. The truth of the matter is, I suspect there were people in both camps who could honestly say they were doing what they were doing for selfish reasons.
And let’s don’t get too tied up in the mask/anti-mask question on this, either. The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter what the activity is, we need to continually examine our motives! No matter what stand we are taking in life, we need to allow God to dig deep in our hearts and reveal the hidden reasons behind what we do or don’t do. If we do not take this all-important step, then no matter how noble our actions may or may not seem, we are in the same danger as the wicked described in Ps. 36:1-4: “In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.”
And if we find that our personal motivation for whatever stand we take is, indeed, self-focused, then our Heavenly Father, who commands us to love one another, will not be happy. Hasn’t He said: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you…” (John 15:12 NIV)?
We are to love each other as Jesus loved us… And Jesus’ love meant giving His own life… That, friends, is our measure of love. That is the measure that we must use to evaluate our every action: Does it show unselfish love like Jesus did for me? Or does it reflect my own ambitions?
To get a better more explicit idea of God’s love, let’s go back to Psalms 36:
“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” (Psalms 36:5-9 NIV)
That is truly amazing love! And when we let such love be the guiding light in our lives, we can be sure that every decision we make is the right one.
In His love,
(To access the entire “The Sling for God” devotional series, please click here.)