If you’re an American, this phrase is even on your money. “In
God We Trust.” The verse of the day is verse 26 which reads: “Many seek
the ruler’s favor, but justice comes from the Lord.” It’s not a bad
thing to seek favor from the ruler, whether it be the sheriff, the governor, or
even the president. It’s okay to want to be an upstanding citizen and not break
Yet, not many of us have an audience, much less a
friendship, but those folks. For me personally, I do know one of the
presidential candidates for the upcoming Presidential election in the United
States. But, even if he were in the White House, I’m not certain I would be
able to present my case before him. There would be a lot of hoops to jump
through and red tape to navigate. Those officials or “rulers” might be able to
help, but I am sure that God’s help will be perfect and timely. God knows
exactly what I need before I even ask.
When you hear the word “righteous” what images go through
your mind? Do you picture someone acting “holier than Thou” lording over
everyone with hypocrisy? Or do you picture an upright, holy person, wanting to
please God in everything they say and do? We have probably observed both types
of individuals, each claiming to be righteous. To be truly righteous, we must
be holy and in tune to God’s plan for us. We are righteous when we are connected
to God and our desires are to please him and do his work in the world.
There are several verses in this passage that speak to how a righteous person acts. In verse 6, “Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.” In verse 7, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”
When we think of sin, greed is one of those that comes to mind for me. What keeps people separated from God? Their desire and preoccupation with money and wealth. How we view money and the acquisition of the same speaks volumes. Some people are so focused on that that they lose sight of God and what God wants for us. Our infatuation with money can be sinful when it keeps us from a relationship with God.
Money can also be a great asset used to do great things. It
can be used for ministry, for feeding the poor, for leaving a legacy. When we
use our wealth to further the kingdom, our priorities are in the right place.
We are no longer greedy wanting the money only for our own selfish desires. God
will bless that. It again comes down to the heart. What is our motivation? How
will God be honored?
When we keep our sins inside, they can fester and we can feel stuck in the muck, so to speak. When we confess those sins, we find freedom. Verse 13 reveals a little of this promise as it says, “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” Mercy, that sounds good. We all want relief from suffering provided by our loving, compassionate God. Not to mention, who doesn’t want to be prosperous?
We were just on a webinar today about those beliefs and
fears that hold us back from our success. Those fears are often feelings we
have allowed ourselves to feel for years based on lies the evil one has placed
in our heads. When we act on them, we sin. For instance, the fear of failure may
come from our feelings of insecurity or unworthiness, our self-doubt. God
certainly didn’t put that inside us. But it’s there. It’s keeping us from
loving God, too, feeling like we aren’t even good enough for his love. When we
are separated from God, we are sinning.
Let’s unpack verse 17 today. It says, “As iron
sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” I know how to sharpen a
pencil, but how in the world do I sharpen a friend? Have you ever seen iron
sharpening iron? A good example would be a knife sharpener. We have men that go
door to door here in Mexico to sharpen the household knives. These men sing and/or
whistle a little tune. I think it’s the “Mexican Knife Song.” I thought maybe
it was just our area, but then I saw the same thing on a show we were watching,
and the setting was Puerto Rico.
I remember the first time we had our knives sharpened here.
I found joy in cooking just like it was my first time. There’s nothing like a
sharp knife to help with meal prep! I didn’t even realize how dull the dull
ones I had been using had become. Watching the sharpening process is