HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand” (Psalm 37:23-24).
B. God takes pleasure in our struggle to walk in holiness.
The last part of verse 23 says, “And he delights in his way.” The “he” refers to God and the “his” refers to the individual believer.” Spurgeon says it very nicely, “As parents are pleased with the tottering footsteps of the little ones. All that concerns a saint is interesting to his heavenly Father. God loves to view the holy strivings of a soul pressing forward to the skies.” Consider a father and his young daughter who is just learning how to walk. For months she has been crawling; recently she has learned how to pull herself up and stand on her wobbling legs while holding her father’s hand. One day she pulls her hand free, wobbles for a moment, tries to take a step forward and falls down. Does her father spank her for falling down? Of course not. He smiles a bit at her tears, and then he helps her back up. Good parents know that falling is a necessary part of learning how to walk. If you never fall, you’ll never learn how to walk. And parents do their children no favours by being so protective that their children never fall down. Better that a child should fall a hundred times than never to learn how to walk at all. Falling isn’t fun for the child, but a wise parent knows that falling always comes before walking. It’s not that the father enjoys seeing his little girl fall and shed tears each time. But he rejoices to see her growing and straining to learn something new.
This applies directly to the “falls” we take spiritually. Our struggles are necessary even though they are not pleasant or easy to endure. Sometimes (often!) we bring trouble on ourselves by the foolish choices we make. And sometimes we end up hurting ourselves and those around us very greatly by repeating those bad choices over and over again.
- Marriages end,
- friendships are broken,
- churches split,
- our children suffer,
and the cause of Christ is hurt by the things we say and do. Sin is serious business, and we never sin without hurting ourselves, and very often, those around us.
I do not mean to suggest that God takes pleasure in our sin or that our sin does not bring punishment. But when we sin, we sometimes wrongly conclude that “God must hate me now.” And in our despair, we want to hide in a closet and never come out. How could God ever take us back after what we did?
The answer is, God loves his children with an everlasting love. Nothing we say or do can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39). We are joined to our Father with bands of eternal love stronger than steel. He loves us too much to let us go on in sin forever. And when we turn back to him, with trembling lip, deeply guilty, fearing the worst, thinking all hope is lost, we discover the good news that he waits with open arms for us to come home to him. When the Prodigal Son finally came to his senses in the “far country,” having wasted his inheritance on riotous living so that he ended up eating with the pigs, having rehearsed what he would say, feeling no longer worthy to be called his father’s son, in the midst of his shame and despair, trudging down the long road home, after all that, when he was “yet a long way off,” his father ran to meet him, hugged him, and smothered him with kisses.
When your children disobey and you punish them, do you hate them or do you love them? You punish them because you love them and because your heart is broken over their disobedience. The same is true a million times more of our heavenly Father. The things we suffer because of our disobedience prove that God still loves us. He waits anxiously for the slightest turn in his direction. No matter what we have done, if we will return to the Lord, he will abundantly pardon us.
One other point and we will move on. God “permits” us to fall when he could stop it. If he permits it, then what he permits must ultimately be for our spiritual benefit. Not the fall itself, but what we will eventually learn from it. God “allows” us to suffer when he could stop it. Not that suffering itself is good, but it is often the pathway to enormous blessing for us.
Follow me tomorrow for the continuation of this message. Let us see the Lord in action for this new year and may God bless and keep us in His service.