Traveling on vacation with my family when I was a child was always special. We would usually leave around 11 p.m. and travel through the night and next day to arrive at our destination of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The trip usually took about 14 hours. Perhaps the best part of the trip was between 2 and 4 a.m., when my mother, brother, and sister were all sleeping. With only my dad and I awake, we would enjoy talking and being together.
Perhaps the most uncomfortable times were traveling through the mountains of West Virginia, where yellow danger signs littered the side of the road, warning drivers to slow down or be aware of falling rock. To a boy under ten the thought of being crushed by a boulder was terrifying. Therefore, I paid special attention to be able to warn my father, in case he needed to take evasive action. Warning signs are necessary and indicate trouble ahead.
Jesus’ warning to us in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”, is a road sign screaming to us “DANGER AHEAD”. Psalm 119:33-40 gives us two warning signs that we may be entering a time of difficulty because of weak flesh.
(Psalm 119:37) Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things (vanity) and revive me in Your way.
(Psalm 119:39) Turn away my reproach which I dread, for Your judgments are good
BEWARE OF STARING AT WORTHLESS THINGS
“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things”. This prayer expresses here a godly desire to be intentional with time, energy, and life for God. What is the danger to that desire, which is the very desire of Christ in us? the danger is our eyes and attention being diverted from God’s will to worthless things.
What are worthless things? Simply put, anything that does not keep, direct or inspire our attention towards the things of God in Christ, the things above where Christ sits at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1-3). This may seem nebulous, but really it is not. Our eyes, minds, affection and attention are to be on Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:1-3). If we are that heavenly minded we will do the earth much good. Many cry for being well rounded, balanced, and cultured… HUMBUG! We should be concerned to BE radical, walking talking Jesus machines, filled and fueled by God’s Spirit and the love of Christ.
How do we identify worthless things? In the first place, we understand that if they suck time away from us, where we are unaware of God’s presence, purpose and will, they are worthless; as we are to be redeeming the time for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16). Secondly, we realize worthless things may be lawful, but may not build our faith or strengthen our sensitivity to the Spirit of God. Worthless things may not build the faith of or encourage the walk of our Christian fellows. When this is the case, it is not expedient for us and is most likely a worthless time sucking thing.
The pull of worthless things upon the redeemed in Christ is even greater than at the writing of Psalm 119:37, therefore we must remain prayerful and on guard. David was asking God to grab him by his ears and turn his eyes away from that which would build a slippery slope to sin. Although we have the Holy Spirit resident with us, we must practice prayerful diagnosis of what we give our attention to. A person who notices they are wasting time in pointless gazing, at whatever, is rounding the corner to danger.
Philippians 4:8 will serve as a passage to aid in identifying the worthy from the worthless.
(Philippians 4:8) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
BEWARE OF PITY PARTIES
The second warning sign of weakness of the flesh comes form Psalm 119:39 . “Turn away my reproach which I fear…”. Once more we see David asking God to turn him from staring at something, which he fears: his reproach.
Reproach carries a sense of personal disgrace, like a barren woman in the O.T.(Isaiah 4:1; Genesis 30:23), that is undeserved. It also carries the very real shame of enemies mocking the misfortune or pain of the individual. We can understand this in Christ, who bore our reproach, as He was mocked having willingly carried the shame of our sin curse in His own body (Hebrews 13:13).
For David to be reproached was a fearful thing. What he is asking is that the LORD would pull his eyes away from the reproach and place it on God’s judgments concerning who he was in the LORD. This is very instructive. Although David feared the labels of men, he knew it was not what he was to regard. All that mattered was what God proclaimed concerning him. This is why our Savior thrived through the reproach and shame of the cross; for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2-3). By faith, Jesus knew who He was and always will be, the reproach did not affect His faith or deter Him from finishing His eternal purpose.
This is a problem for those who are sincere in Christ. If you will surrender all, desire to know Him and the power of His resurrection, you will suffer reproach from others. When we begin to allow sadness, despair and depression to blind us to God’s judgment concerning us, then we are in danger. Take it from me, this is perhaps one of the greatest weaknesses of the called in Christ, therefore it is our greatest challenge. We must place our eyes on God’s judgment concerning us, as His children.
(Romans 8:14-17) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
- Read Philippians 4:8 and prayerfully consider what steals time away from focusing on the truths in this passage. Ask God to reveal the top ways you waste your time gazing at vanity and commit to changing as led by the Holy Spirit.
- Ask the Lord Jesus to reveal the most prominent people or situation that bring about feelings of failure, shame, and reproach. Seek in the word what the scripture reveals about your being a child of God. Hide those God judgments in your heart.