but steadfast love surrounds those
who trust in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice,
and shout for joy,
all you upright in heart.
Rebuilding of the wall began, an effort of great cost and opposition of enemies and with complaints within. Finally, Nehemiah called an assembly to deal with the charges that some people were raking off contributions to their own benefit.
1 Corinthians 7:25-40
When Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, he was expecting the return of Christ as ruler of the earth to be imminent. Our expectations of the apocalypse have had to be modified. Yet, we can still benefit from Paul's advice although we need to temper that advice in light of our own circumstances.
How much is Paul asking us to forget? Be careful in how you read his advice that married people act as if they weren't married. He is not suggesting licentiousness. Rather, he is asking us to shift our focus outward, to be concerned about more than our own happiness or sorrow.
Being a Christian means being interested in what Christ is interested in.
We just cannot count on sin to keep us happy. The psalm expresses a similar situation: "As long as I wouldn't admit my errors, I suffered. But, when I confessed my sins to the Lord, I was forgiven."The psalm calls on us to reflect on our choices--the ones we have already made and the ones that it is time to make. We need to stop doing what we shouldn't even have started doing. We need to confess and to ask forgiveness.
And confession and forgiveness are not the end of the story according to this psalm. Once we have gotten right, we need to stay that way. "Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, who needs to be curbed with a bit and bridle."
The alternatives are stark, according to this psalm: The wicked will live in torment, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. We are being asked to change our ways so that we can live out the command:
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,Proverbs 21:5-7
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to want.
Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, shift our focus from ourselves. Direct our attention to your will. Increase our love for you. Increase our willingness to live lives that demonstrate this love. Amen.