Psalm 73 tells the story of a righteous man who stumbled before God because he took his eyes off of God and His Kingdom and focused on man instead. The Psalmist testifies that he loved the Lord with all of his heart and strived night and day to live obediently before Him. And yet, in spite of his righteousness, his life was rife with problems. To make matters worse, when he looked at the wicked all around him who rejected God and His commandments, he saw them enjoying health, success, and tremendous prosperity! As a result, he became discouraged, even bitter. When he reached his lowest point, he even questioned the wisdom of continuing to live righteously before God. Why strive to please God when the wicked man received His blessing instead?
The Psalmist testifies that he continued on this miserable path, stumbling greatly as he went along, and becoming more and more displeasing to the Lord, until he entered the sanctuary of God. It was then that he was jolted out of his stupor and saw as a righteous man should.
I can relate to this poor brother in his stumbling. I really can. And like him, I understand the awesome liberation that comes our way when we return to the sanctuary of God and to spiritual things.
Because I home school my children, we only live on one salary. As an electronics technician, my husband doesn’t make a lot of money. It’s enough to keep us clothed and fed, but there is no money for ‘extras.’ We don’t even have a house; we live in an apartment. Recently, our car died out, and we were forced to buy a new one. With this new car payment, we lost any chance of ever being able to save for a decent house.
Apartment living and empty bank accounts never bothered me before. Because I was so focused on Christ, His Kingdom, His spiritual blessings, and serving others through the use of my spiritual gifts, I couldn’t have cared less about anything else. But, like our Psalmist friend, when I took my eyes off of spiritual things and placed them on this world, I fell, and I fell hard. I remember walking into our living room and saying to my husband, "No matter how hard you work, the quality of our lives is never going to get any better than this. We’re never going to be able to afford a house. There will never be any money for vacations. This is as good as it’s ever going to get." I then became depressed. I also became angry and bitter at the injustice of it all, and I remained in this condition for several miserable weeks.
If we were tight-fisted and never helped others out, I could understand the ‘justice’ of having an empty bank account. But this simply wasn’t so. We’ve always given to the poor. We’ve always helped others out even when we didn’t have it to give. Our lives were completely centered on Christ. And yet, when I looked around, I saw those who refuse to live for God being ‘blessed’ with beautiful homes, money for vacations, cars, furniture, and everything else money can buy. People who didn’t give a penny to the poor, the widow, or the orphan were living in the lap of luxury while my husband and I lived in a tiny apartment emptying out piggy banks. In my distorted thinking, Heaven had erred. The wrong people were living in the wrong homes. The wrong people were possessing the wrong bank accounts. It simply was not fair.
Like the Psalmist, when I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive and confusing to me, until I ‘entered the sanctuary of God.’ When I returned to prayer and to the Word of God, I returned to reality. I was reminded of what true wealth consists of, and I saw that, by the grace of God, I possessed this wealth. I saw that it was not I who was poor; it was they who were poor.
Who is poor if the Spirit of Christ burns in one’s heart? Who is poor if one has found the narrow road which leads to life? Who is poor if one’s name is written in Heaven, if one possesses spiritual blessings, and if one has found favor with God? Can anyone be poor who has the listening ear of God or who bears the Name of His Son? If our love and devotion to Christ have made us the apple of His eye, if they have caused us to steal His heart as He has stolen ours, we are not poor; we are rich!
When my eyes were on Christ and His kingdom, I walked uprightly before God. When I placed those same eyes on man and his kingdom, I stumbled and went astray. But when I ‘entered the sanctuary of God,’ returning to spiritual things, I awoke from my stupor and was able to see once more.
Perhaps you, too, are going through a difficult time. You love God, and you have placed Him first and foremost in your life. And yet, when you look at your marriage, your children, your finances, your health, or a thousand other areas in your life, it seems as if those who do not love Him have gotten the better end of the deal.
I want to encourage you to get alone with God, pick up your Bible, open it up to Psalm 73 and meditate on it. When we get into God’s Word, something extraordinary happens. Our minds become renewed, and our thoughts line up with Heaven. Like the Psalmist, when we ‘enter the sanctuary of God,’ the scales fall from our eyes, and we are able to see as we ought. By the time God got through with our Psalmist friend ‘in the sanctuary,’ he was able to say once more, "Earth has nothing I desire besides you." [Ps 73:25].
Suddenly, he was rich again. He was prosperous and successful once more. He was blessed. Did his circumstances change? No. What made the difference? Time in the sanctuary of God. Time in prayer. Time in the Word. When we focus on spiritual things, our spiritual sight remains strong and intact, and we walk before God as we ought. But when we take our eyes off of spiritual things and place them onto earthly things, like the Psalmist, we stumble before God, and we fall.
Christ is calling us to ‘enter His sanctuary’ by spending time with Him each and every single day so that our focus will remain where it ought. May our hearts be responsive to His call.
Like our friend the Psalmist, may our time in that sanctuary bring us to the point where we, too, can say, "Earth has nothing I desire...
... besides You."
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