Today’s blog, written by Pastor David Kwon of Journey Community Church in Raleigh, was originally posted on November 3, 2013.
Devotional Thought for Today
“The Evil Without and Within”
Psalm 94:4-11 (NIV)
They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting. 5 They crush your people, Lord; they oppress your inheritance. 6 They slay the widow and the foreigner; they murder the fatherless. 7 They say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.” 8 Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? 9 Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? 10 Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge? 11 The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.
If we stop and look around – or sit through an hour of the evening news – we can’t help but come to terms with the abundance of evil in the world. From murderers and rapists to greedy businessmen and self-seeking government officials, to the self-righteous religious folks and the misguided vigilante, evil is all around us. And on the occasion that we pause long enough from our busy schedules and look in the mirror, we find proof within us of what Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn meant when he said, “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”
Evil is all around us and even within us. At the heart of all evil is sin. And at the heart of all sin is arrogance (or pride) – thinking that we know better than God, thinking that we are not obligated to submit to Him, thinking we can do things apart from Him, or worse, not thinking of Him at all.
The psalmist laments, in utter frustration, the works of evil he saw in his day. At the heart of all these things is the belief, the lie, that God does not see (verse 7). It’s scary to think that much of the world operates with no knowledge or concept of God. It’s even scarier to realize that the believers often do the same. Not that we don’t know of God, but that we move through our days as though He’s not there, considering and consulting Him little if at all.
These verses are a wakeup call – to remember our God – His authority and sovereignty over all. God sees all, knows all, and is in control of all things. For the wicked, this is a terrifying reality. But for us, it’s a comfort to know that our loving God sits on the throne. And even with all the evil running rampant around us, He is still in control and at work to eradicate it.
Prayer: Lord, before I ever condemn the world for all the evil that it embodies, help me to see the evil within me. Then, compel and constrain me, that is, if I am not willing, to repent. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 5
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24: Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Questions to Consider
- What is the common thread in the commands Paul gives in verses 16-18? What does this tell us about how to interact with the current state of the world around us?
- In verse 22, Paul encourages the church at Thessalonica to reject every kind of evil. What do the verses that follow tell us about how they’re able to do that?
- Why is it important to end with a reminder of the faithfulness of God?
How do Paul’s words encourage you today? Maybe it’s time to rejoice and give thanks even in the face of much evil around you. Maybe God is calling you to pray, remembering His sovereignty and petitioning him to bring forth His kingdom in its fullness. Maybe you’re struggling with the evil in yourself. Submit yourself to God, acknowledging that it’s God alone who can purify you and rejoicing in the fact that He is doing just that in you right now.
- “always/continually/all circumstances” – Through Paul, God is giving instructions that are not contingent upon what’s going on in our lives or in the world around us, but instructions that should be followed at all times. Even when the world seems to be headed to hell in a hand-basket, we can rejoice and give thanks because we know that God is in control and at work. And we pray continually, even in the face of pervasive evil in the world and our own hearts, because we know that all things are subject to the will of God and that His plan is to abolish evil once and for all.
- It is through the power of God that we reject every kind of evil. Paul tells the church, and by extension us, to reject “abstain from (or reject) every form of evil.” That’s a tall order! But we are able to do this as God himself makes every part of us blameless and holy. It is the work of God within us that not only enables us to be purged of evil within ourselves, but that will ultimately purge the world of all evil when Christ returns.
- God’s faithfulness is our greatest comfort. No matter what is going on around us or within us, we know that God is faithful to his promises to us. He will bring an end to all evil (within us and around us) and will walk with us daily as he does it. Our God is faithful to His people and faithful to His promises. That’s great news!
Spend some time interceding for the world around you. Even though much of the world is plagued by the evil of sin, we can pray, just as Jesus instructed, “Your kingdom come! Your will be done!”