A Vision for the Good Life. . . Epiphany- Day 51
Psalm 128 (NLT)
How joyful are those who fear the LORD
all who follow his ways!
You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
How joyful and prosperous you will be!
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine,
flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees
as they sit around your table.
That is the LORD’s blessing
for those who fear him.
May the LORD continually bless you from Zion.
May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live.
May you live to enjoy your grandchildren.
May Israel have peace!
Matthew 5:21-26 (NRSV)
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
CONSIDER THIS. . .
I like it when the Psalms offer a pure blessing word. The Psalmist is casting a vision for “the good life.” It seems like everywhere we go, someone is casting a vision for the good life. And it mostly involves material possessions and status. It involves the kind of neighborhood you live in and what kind of house you have in that neighborhood and what kind of car is in the garage of that house and what kind of food is in the refrigerator and what kind of clothes are in the closet and on it goes. The vision for the good life comes through ten thousand small messages and a thousand songs. It is a vision of prosperity for sure and to a certain extent it is a good and very appealing vision. It is a vision of happiness. Who doesn’t want that.
Growing up around my grandparents, I remember a little plaque on the wall of their breakfast room. On it was inscribed a short poem by Henrik Ibson. When you look at something over and over and over again, it has a way of memorizing you. (This is how God’s Word works best). Here is the poem:
“Money may buy the husk of many things but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintance, but not friends; servants, but not loyalty; days of joy, but not peace or happiness.”
This vision of prosperity, of the good life, offered by the Psalm above cannot be bought. It can only be received. But it first must be believed. Will you believe this? Can you see it? It slowly comes to those who “fear the Lord,” which is to say those who live in awe of the God who is Jesus Christ.
I’m thinking about putting it on a plaque in my breakfast room.