What you do and how you live matters to God, because you matter to Him and so do the people who need our help. One way He will evaluate our lives will be according to the way we invest ourselves in the poor and needy. He appreciates what we do for those less fortunate than ourselves and will reward us for it.
We live in a “look good – feel good” culture, so it’s easy to miss the point that a “God culture” is all about “being good – doing good.” Want to know the path to joy? “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8). Solomon shares his own life experiment in this regard.
“I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless. ‘Laughter,’ I said, ‘is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?’” (Eccl. 2:1-2). Another translation reads, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” (NLT) It’s not that we shouldn’t seek pleasure and laughter at all, but rather we shouldn’t seek only those things.
A God culture is a “see that good is done to others” culture. You can have fun doing that! It’s a different kind of fun that the tinsel triviality of silliness. Deep joy that cannot be troubled by trouble is found in doing justice where there is no justice being done; loving mercy where cruelty rules; and walking humble with your God instead of drawing attention to your good deeds.
I was a very selfish teenager. Looking back, I can’t understand how I had any friends! I remember once in French class I was acting up and being disruptive. My teacher stopped the whole class and said to me in front of everyone, “Jill Ryder, you must be the most selfish creature on God’s green earth!” I turned bright red and was totally humiliated and angry at her, but I knew she was right. I thought I was making a lot of fun for my friends and me – but actually I deserved the rebuke. It got me thinking that I ought to put my time to more profitable use!
But try though I would, I could not get that egocentricity out of my life. It took the saving life of Christ to get me thinking about others rather than myself. It may not sound like much fun, but joy comes through knowing the Living God who gave Himself for us. He wants to give Himself – through us – to help others.
Satisfaction comes from the experience of getting down and dirty in the ditch with the person who’s been beaten up by life on this crazy planet. It’s in binding up the man’s wounds, putting him on your own donkey, taking him to a place of safety, looking after him until he heals – and paying the innkeeper’s bills on top of it all – that you find purpose! (See Luke 10:30-35).
As you tend to the physical needs of one beaten up by robbers, joy comes in telling them that they are made for another world – a world where there will be no more pain, tears, death, sickness, poverty or despair. There is great joy in promoting justice, mercy, and grace in a world where, as in Qoheleth’s world, injustice lives in the courts and cruelty survives in the streets.
Just Between Us Magazine