With my mind scurrying across a list of things begging my attention today, I had almost decided to skip this morning’s devotional reading. But I felt drawn anyway, and Psalm 83 popped in my mind. Psalm 83–one of many of the Psalms that have never found much favor . . . read over and mostly ignored.
So I pulled out my Bible and read it anyway, clueless as to what words lay there.
“For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads. They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against your treasured ones.” ~ Psalm 83:2-3 ESV
Could a scripture be anymore appropriate for today than that one? We have a president telling Christians we need to change our views about certain issues–issues on which God has spoken clearly, and what God says is totally different from what the president tells us we need to do. And, he seems to have done everything in his power to push that agenda.
And there is the social agenda that wars against Christians, seeking to silence us.
Not to mention terrorists who are beheading Christians, simply because they will not recant their faith in Christ.
The psalmist was referring to the nation of Israel, but this Psalm is applicable to the Christian community today. Christianity isn’t limited to a nation. We here in America view our heritage and think of ourselves in national terms, but the second covenant deals with us as individuals. Christianity–the kingdom of God–is without borders. Christians are being persecuted–from mildly to severely–worldwide. And the level of persecution is increasing.
My ESV Bible is a study Bible, so I read the study notes. That is where I got slapped in the face, because my own failings were highlighted.
The notes summed up the Psalm by saying that the psalmist prayed that God would make those enemies trying to destroy Israel fail miserably–putting them to shame in disgrace forever.
I think that has been a common prayer whispered by many, if not most, of us in the faith today. If we are to be honest, we want to see them destroyed or at the very least, silenced and put to shame.
But what is our true motive?
For me, it has been pride. It has been about ME.
Just keeping it real.
But what we need to heed is the psalmist’s TRUE motive for asking God to destroy those whose aim is to destroy Israel. It is found in verse 18: That they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.
I don’t know about you, but that has not been my motive in my prayers. Yes, I’ve whispered the token “let their blind eyes be opened” and “save them”. But have I earnestly sought that in my heart? Have I loved them enough to REALLY want that for them…
Or do I simply want the Lord to shut ’em up? Or to simply bring them to shame?
Our motives, if we will dig and be open to the ugly truth lying there, reflect what’s really going on in our heart.
Am I willing to allow God to purify my motives?
Indeed, we are living in days when we need to stand and stand firmly on what God’s word says. And contrary to what many say, that isn’t judging . . . it’s DECLARING what God’s word says.
But we have to temper it with the alternative: God’s saving grace. We have to share that above all. At the heart should be “that they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.”
Too often, we simply want to highlight our own ‘righteousness’ by pointing out the flaws of others. That’s when we slip into the forbidden Pharisaical judgment. In that kind of judgment, we place ourselves above them.
God so loved the WORLD that He wanted to save it from its sin . . . to give mankind a hope. If we think it’s all about spending eternity in Heaven, we’ve missed most of the picture. We are set free to BE free from the power of sin. We don’t have to live this life bound to sin. Eternity isn’t just about quantity . . . length of time. It is also about the life we can live NOW before we attain that final reward.
Do I love others enough to pray that they fail SO THAT THEY MIGHT SEE WHO GOD REALLY IS? I think there are very few who come to Christ when they’re soaring above the mountains. They come to Christ, broken, miserable, and realizing He is their only hope.
So, I believe God wanted to speak to me this morning. I had just prayed a fervent prayer asking God to help me. Asking him to give me wisdom. Asking him to change me. Even though I fail over and over, I want to be obedient to him. I want to live out my life in a way that honors him and points others to him.
That change comes first in our heart. It isn’t about the outward person. It’s about the heart. And what is our heart but the seat of our desires and motivations?
God spoke to me once before about my motivations, many years ago. The revelation of such rubs raw against our pride.
When the Bible tells us not to judge others, what He wants is for us to check our motivation. Do we want to lift ourselves up by putting others down? (Pride) Or do we genuinely want them to be set free? (Love)
Sometimes being set free from things contrary to what God would have motivate our thoughts and actions is painful and even humiliating.
But it works out for our good. And, ultimately, the good of others.
Yes, we can pray that those who are trying to kill us…to silence us…to destroy us in one way or another are brought down by God. Most of Psalm 83 is such a prayer.
But in the end, the psalmist makes his true motive known. A motive which should be ours: So that they might come to know that God is God. So that they might come to know true freedom through Christ and Christ alone.
That’s a prayer with a motive God will hear . . . what He desires us to pray.
It is, after all, all about HIM. Not us.