Transformed by Delight (Psalm 37:[1-2] 3-4)
[Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! ²For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.] ³Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. ⁴Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. –Psalm 37:[1-2] 3-4
In light of recent headlines, do you find yourself wondering, Why do the wrongdoers have so much sway? Increasingly our culture’s elites have massive platforms for shaping the thinking of our countrymen. Whether by means of TV, music, social media, or the internet, outlets abound for getting their anti-God message across to the masses. And the many who aren’t swimming intentionally against the flow of our culture are being swept along with it. Every day it seems a new headline blares their further transgressive progress. It’s easy to envy the influence wrongdoers have and worry about how it may harm us in the future.
On the surface it looks like evil is winning. But Psalm 37 reveals a deeper reality. David grounds the joint commands not to fret or envy in the certainty that those who tempt us to fear and desire will not be long on the scene. Like grass, evildoers will fade. Like a green herb that smells fresh on the bush but, once cut, withers by day’s end, wrongdoers are short lived. This isn’t a promise that every evil person will die young or that every righteous one will live long. Instead, it’s a glimpse into final outcomes. God will preserve the righteous for eternal life. Verse 24 assures us that a man who delights in the Lord shall not be cast headlong–he will not finally be destroyed. Such a man or woman shall, says verse 27, “dwell forever.”
When I’m tempted to despair over the state of our culture, these verses offer calm. Not only does God tell me what not to do–fret and envy–He also tells me what to do–trust and delight in Him. The opposite of fretting over something with the potential to harm us is trusting in something or someone more powerful. The opposite of envying evildoers is delighting in the One who is, in His very nature, good.
God’s command to trust and delight in Him is an invitation into peace and provision. What kindness that God frees us from the burden of worry and the corrosive effects of resentful longing by providing a life-giving alternative.
Before He raised me to life and gave me a new heart, envy came naturally. Fretting felt like the right response to bad news. What’s worse, I was among the wrongdoers and evildoers David said would wither and fade. But thanks be to God! For all who are trusting in Jesus, He did not leave us in our sin. In Christ we are cleansed from all unrighteousness. In Christ, the process of becoming like Christ is underway. As we delight in Him, God is transforming our desires. Though we still struggle against envy and worry, we struggle. It is that fight against sin that is evidence of His saving grace.
The more we trust in the Lord and the more we delight in Him, the less we are prone to worry and envy. It is here, in our delighting in Him, that God changes our desires to be pleasing to Him. By His power at work in us, we start to most want what He wants us to have, the very things He has promised to give.
What tempts you to envy and anxious worry?
Ask God to turn your gaze away from wrongdoers–those who don’t know Him–and instead focus your eyes on Him in trust and delight.
Praise Him that He has promised to transform the desires of His children.
Candice Watters is the FighterVerses editor. She is married to Steve Watters, Truth78's director of marketing and resource development. She is mom to Harrison, Zoe, Churchill, and Teddy and co-author with Steve of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. The Watterses love helping parents learn how to disciple their children.