Defiant Joy

Oct 4, 2019

Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers, for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. –Psalm 37:1-4

Psalm 37 talks about the disconnected feeling we have between what we, as followers of God know to be right, and what we see demonstrated in the world. We don’t need to look very hard to find examples of wicked people who have succeeded wildly. There is no end of people who have prestige, earthly riches, or success. Many of them have done so in spite of, or even because of evil actions. It can be disheartening because such actions leave behind broken hearts and lives. And if we are honest with ourselves we might be a little jealous of that success.

The psalmist gives us the primary response we are to have such injustice. When confronted with injustice and with wrongdoing, our first course of action is to trust God. This is not a response that sits well with people who value action. We desire for justice to be served, for wrongs to be righted. These are not bad desires, but as it says in verse 5, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will act.”

But it doesn’t just say to trust in the Lord. In verse 4 it says something even more audacious: take delight in the Lord. This seems like a step beyond trust, and one that is not obvious to human minds. But this addresses a deceptive effect of evil in our world; it threatens to darken our lives and rob us of the joy of living in Christ’s love. There is an old saying, “living well is the best revenge.” Revenge is not a very Christlike attitude, but there is a feeling of defiance against evil when we take delight in the Lord. Part of how we stand up against evil is to be joyful in its face.

Taking delight in the Lord is just the first step, but it is one that informs our whole lives. We know that there will be evil in this world, but living in defiant joy stands out to the world around us. There is no longer any need to live in anxiety, fear, or anger. We have been set free from all of evil’s effects, and that freedom gives us the spirit we need to take further action against evil. Christ has won the victory. It’s time to live like we believe that.

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Nate Owens

Nate Owens served as the Communications Coordinator of the Church of the Nazarene Asia-Pacific in a tandem role with his wife Hope Owens. The whole family is an avid fan of board games.

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