Gains of godliness
Psalm 84:11 is an exciting and assuring verse of scripture. It says, “For the Lord God is our light and protector. He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who do what is right.”
Of course, this assurance only applies to those who do what is right in God’s sight. These are the righteous people. They are the people who love and obey His commandments. He says He will bless and honour them.
This promise is also supported by Job 36:11 which says, “If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures;” as well as Psalm 34:9-10, which says “O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
Certainly, the prosperity and pleasures of life are rewards for those who faithfully serve and obey God. In fact, God is always searching for such people to bless.
Looking at our present society, we may be tempted to say that there are many people who sincerely serve and obey God but seem to lack the good things of life. We wonder why there is virtually nothing to show that they are special people of God. The truth is that our assessment can sometimes be wrong. The person we assume to be righteous may not actually be so in God’s eyes. We are only able to see the outside of a person, while God looks at the heart.
This tendency to hinge our judgement on appearance is, apparently, a general limitation of all mortals. Even God’s anointed prophet, Samuel, made the same mistake of looking at the physical features of Eliab, when God directed him to go anoint one of Jesse’s sons as King Saul’s successor. Samuel was so impressed with Eliab’s broad shoulders and other physical attributes that he quickly concluded that he (Eliab) was the chosen one – until God expressed His disapproval over the decision.
God has said that our thoughts are not His thoughts and our ways are not His ways. This implies that we need to think like God to understand His ways. Now, this cannot be possible without divine help. Only God can transform us from within to enable us conform to His likeness. We also need to feed on His words and allow those words to dwell richly in us before we can think like Him.
We may also sometimes wonder why some people who live in brazen disobedience and opposition to God seem to be flourishing and enjoying the good things of life. Indeed, such decadent people abound everywhere. They are full of evil devices and are involved in all sorts of shady businesses. They are the ones who call the shots and influence the economy. The truth, however, is that while they may seem to be prospering in the eyes of men, God, whose words can never fail, has said in Psalm 37:1-4, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shall be fed.”
God is both warning and advising us against envying wicked people who will perish with their ill-gotten wealth. This will be understood better when one considers how some seemingly green and healthy herbs slowly wither and eventually die off. In such cases, neither watering nor providing manure for them can reverse the trend.
It is also instructive to note that God’s promise of not keeping any good thing from the righteous is equally conditional. Sometimes, our definition of a good thing may not exactly be God’s perception. We all know that Rolls Royce is a very good car. Some rich Nigerians have one or more of it. But supposing I ask God to give me one Rolls Royce car today because He has said will not deny me any good thing, I am sure He would want to know my motive for wanting it. Is my desire for this good thing really justified, or is it merely to let my friends to know that I have arrived?
God does not place great things in the hands of some people because they have the tendency to misuse and monopolise such privileges. Good things are given to people for noble purposes. The purpose for which God supplies good things is not for selfish indulgence but to enable us accomplish the mission He has for us.
How we use our God-given time, talents and treasures determines whether more will be given or even the ones given would be withdrawn. Above all, we are called to devote ourselves to activities that glorify God, in order to continually receive and enjoy the good things divinely provided for us.