I was asked to do a devotion on Psalm 1 a little while ago
and since it is one of my favourite passages in Scripture, I had no hesitation
in saying yes. To me, Psalm 1 embodies the wisdom that makes a 'perfect
Christian'. By this I do not mean a person who is perfect but rather a person
that is following the Lord day by day in close relationship -– maybe 'victorious
Christian' would be more apt.
However, when I was mulling over the words 'victorious
Christian', a picture came to mind of an individual with a shining face and
positive attitude, the ability to cope efficiently regardless of what was thrown
at them, and a desire to look after others. In short, after rereading this
description, I think I've managed to describe some of the best workers in
charity and aid organisations and there is nothing about it that suggests that
these wonderful attributes come from God initially.
Then came the challenge to look at the 'victorious' men
and women of God in the Bible and see why we perceive them to be this way
because by now, I had realised that the phrase 'victorious Christian' is
very subjective and is defined according to one's perception.
Mostly, however, Christians world-wide agree that certain
people in the Bible stand out because of the power of God in their lives.
Let's start with the Psalms and the man who authored a good
number of those powerful passages that bring praise and worship to new heights.
Reading through our hearts are uplifted and encouraged until we realise that
these anthems of victory are interspersed with complaints (i.e. Psalm 10:1)
and moans (Psalm 3:1-2) and groans (i.e. Psalm 6:6) and even requests
that God will do something nasty to David's enemies (i.e. Psalm 5:10) When
we read through the record of David's life we see that the same man who killed
a giant, a lion and a bear, through the power of God, succumbs to lusts that are
common to humankind and ends up taking someone's wife and her husband's
life. How do we reconcile this picture with the one that has come down through
history of a 'man after God's own heart'?
How about Moses? A man who doesn't even start off well. For
a guy who was brought up in a palace with every advantage known to man at the
time, he couldn't speak clearly in public, his temper was uncontrolled and he
was a coward. Why do we now view him as the 'meekest man on earth'?
Consider Paul who was once very much Saul. A Pharisee who
kept every point of the law and was considered in man's eyes to be faultless.
This religious zealot's misplaced zeal made him into a mass murderer who,
after miraculous conversion, ended up preaching to the families of those he had
made into orphans, widows and widowers. What could possibly set him apart after
murder on this scale?
A clue to this answer is given in Psalm 1:2-3. "But
his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and
night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in
season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."
If we consider these three men, we notice that their time of
victorious living was directly proportional to their time spent with the Lord
-– meditating on His Word, living the way they believed the Lord was asking
them to live.
This theory is borne out by the life of Daniel. He is one of
the few humans who seem to have 'got it right'. The reason for this, I
believe, is that his relationship with the Lord started on his knees and ended
on his knees. Daniel was known as a man of prayer. Whether there was a difficult
situation in his life or not, Daniel was on his knees three times a day, every
day. His devotion to speaking to God constantly took him through an entire
lifetime with nothing negative recorded in the Bible whatsoever about his life.
Does this mean that my perception of a victorious Christian
is only if they got through an entire lifetime without having made any mistakes?
NO, definitely not! But I do believe that the more time we spend in God's
presence, the less chance we have of doing things that we regret later.
Does this mean that Daniel's life was made easier by the
fact that He was constantly in God's presence? No! It was only the other day
that I made a more detailed picture of what might have conceivably happened to
Daniel when he was thrown into the den. If he was thrown in from the top, he
would have quite probably been badly bruised. If pushed in from the side, with
hands bound, at the least, skin was probably scraped off. As he was supposed to
be eaten, no-one was going to feed him or give him a drink through the night
that he spent in the den and when he was praying, what do you think he might
have been kneeling in?
When he was pulled out, sore, dirty, smelly, tired, hungry
and thirsty, do you think he felt like a victorious Christian? I think not...My
belief is that he was probably a weary thankful and grateful one, but not
victorious. He knew where his salvation came from and thanked God for it but,
thousands of years later, we view him as shining from the pages of the Bible.
When I look back at David, Moses and Paul, where do I see the
victory in their lives shining from? Personally, I believe it is when David is
face down in the cave crying out to God for respite from being hunted by King
Saul, when his men are against him because their wives and families have been
taken and he's flat on his face again before God. What about when he's
confessing his sins before God? So many times he did this and cried out for help
and God brought the victory!
Moses became the meekest man on earth because he had to spend
so much time on his face before God. His people were a moaning, complaining lot
who were unruly and undisciplined. The only way he could lead them was to seek
God's counsel all the time. This was how God brought the victory!
Again, Paul, who was known as a brash and often pushy little
guy, spent time talking to the Lord when he was floating in the sea, singing
songs in a prison, and being flogged by officials. It is not natural that a man
can go through all these things and still shine -– in this way again, God
brought the victory!
One of my girls came for Bible study to my cabin the
other day. I asked how things were going and she excitedly related to me how she'd
gone out on an e-day (evangelism day) but was totally unenthusiastic about it.
When she got there, she was asked to give a testimony and was horrified because
she felt she had nothing to give. She quickly asked the Lord for help and felt
Him say that she was to share the struggles she was going through at the time.
She felt terrible doing this but when a lady got up and said that she was going
through something similar and was so blessed to know that others were also
dealing with similar issues, my girl saw God bring the victory!