Is the pursuit of righteousness futile? Is the pursuit of wisdom worth it? Does the pursuit toward godliness come up empty?
If you've been a Christian for any length of time, I'm sure you've no doubt struggled with these questions, or some variation of them. It's hard to keep-on keepin'-on when it seems like your efforts are getting you nowhere.
I struggle with questions like this all the time. The worst one is this:
Why do the wicked prosper and feel no guilt, while I'm over here following You and suffering?
In times like this, I refer to one of my favorite rap songs. You think I'm kidding, but I'm really not.
When I was in high school, I started going to this awesome church called Applegate Christian Fellowship. Along with my exposure to a different kind of service than the Presbyterian church I grew up in had been, I came to know about Christian Rock for the first time.
My brother and sister and I listened to Air1 nonstop, trying to find new songs. In this pursuit, a friend gave my brother some music, and among the artists was this rapper named Shai Linne. He had this song called "My Portion." It was cheesy, and I giggled the whole way through.
But for some reason, I was drawn back to it. And I kept listening. And listening. And listening. Soon enough, I had discovered that this song was based on Scripture! Go figure! Psalm 73, my friends, Psalm 73. (Also features John Piper, sermon-giver, Bible-teacher, truth-speaker extraordinaire).
Since I fell in love with this song, I've been particularly drawn to Psalm 73. I've studied it and studied it, and it has been my constant companion as I struggle with this eternal question of why the wicked prosper, and why I should put my efforts toward the Lord when it doesn't seem to produce anything in my life.
The key to understanding this psalm is to recognize that it has two parts. The first part is the psalmist, utterly frustrated.
"Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence." (Ps. 73:13)
He sees the prosperity of the wicked and is envious. I can't say that I haven't done the same. But here's the kicker. Here's the turning point. Verses 16 & 17, ladies and gents.
"When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny."
Until he entered the sanctuary of God. That statement is vital.
When I'm lacking in understanding and when I'm envious of those who seek out wrongdoing, I'm far from God. That's always how it is. Those thoughts and those desires never come about when I'm daily in His Word, daily seeking Him in prayer, and daily surrounding myself with people who push me closer to Him. It just doesn't happen.
The psalm finishes with this:
"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desires besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds." (Ps. 73:25-28)
God is our portion. He is all we ever need. For us, it is good to be near God. We have made Him our refuge. And because of that, we can see clearly.
I would heavily encourage you to read Psalm 73, and read it personally. Make yourself into the psalmist and see if you don't have a kindred spirit.
So, is the pursuit of righteousness futile? Is it worth it to pursue wisdom? What do we get when we seek out godliness?
We get God. And that's all we need.