Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Because They Have No Changes

"God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God." (Psalm 55:19)

This little verse, nestled as it is within the context of David calling upon the Lord to requite him of those enemies who surrounded him daily, tells us a lot about the why of so much of the disobedience displayed against the Lord. As I alluded to in an earlier post, Psalm 10:4 indicates that complacency is a common starting point for disobedience and rebellion. We often hear the phrase, "There is no plateau in Christian growth". That is very true. Either you are growing, or you're sliding back. And a complacent soul, one that tries to hunker down and enjoy things where they're at, is going to slip back down the slope, sooner rather than later. Dave Mallinak at Sharper Irony has an excellent post related to this, how the downs in our Christian experience can often consume, "eat up", the growth and spirituality we have reached in our walks with the Lord. So true.

Complacency often occurs when a man or woman, boy or girl, reaches a point where their "comfort zone" maxes out. They peg the red end of their satisfaction metre. But it's not the sort of satisfaction that engenders contentment in the Lord's will and way. Instead, it's a happiness with their present circumstances - which may often times be outside and growing further away from the Lord's perfect will for their lives. A soul can get into a rut, can get to a point where it will compromise with some sin in its life. "Keep it down to a low roar, and I'll tolerate you", we can tell that sin.

That's a jumping off point to full-blown rebellion.

"He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease." (Job 12:5)

Growing self-satisfied, especially in a place of sin and outside God's will, is to ignore the lamp that will prevent us from falling. And it happens so often to those that are at ease (think Western Christendom). It is little wonder that in Israel's history, ease and contentment were connected with apostasy and judgment (Amos chapter 6 being a good example).

And now, coming to the text verse given above, this is why God so often shakes us up by bringing into our lives adversity and trials. In other words, changes. That word used in our passage translates the Hebrew chaliyphah. The word has the connotation of "alteration", in the sense of something new being used to replace something old. In every other place but one where the word is translated "change", it is describing the changing of a garment, someone's physical clothing. It is also translated as "course" in I Kings 5:14 where it describes the once-every-three-months rotation of Solomon's levies to work the forests of Lebanon. So, the word, as we would expect, means something new being introduced.

It is because of these changes that we are forced to turn to God in trust. When God brings trials, allows temptations, leads us in directions that may be radically different from where we've been going or where we want to go, these are "changes". They ought to induce us to cleave to the Lord ever more, to seek Him out in trust, instead of trying to muddle through making our own way. This is the reality of Christian growth. God takes the limits of our faith as they presently exist, and strains them and stretches them so that they expand, hopefully permanently. If you take a flexible ring, you can pull and stretch it enough that it warps from its original dimensions and the area that it encompasses is expanded.

The enemies of David, who were really God-haters as the surrounding text makes clear, had no changes in their lives. They were complacent, but they ALSO did not have a relationship with God that included God working to help them to grow and prosper in a walk with Him. They were complacent with their idols or with their facade religion. They had no relationship with God, or if they had had one, they no longer did. They have no growth in God, and so they implicitly assume that there is no God to cause growth.

How do we respond when God brings changes into our lives? Do we revolt against them, or do we patiently accede to His desires for us? He does all that He does for our benefit and for His glory. He wants us to be better servants, better Christians, better parents, better children, better husbands and wives, better pastors, better laymen. And the way He brings this about is by taking us out of our comfort zone and challenging us to trust Him more.

By Tim Dunkin
Used With Permission

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