What is desired in a man is steadfast love (Proverbs 19:22).
If a man has steadfast love, he has everything. For steadfast love is the foundation of courage, generosity, faithfulness, patience, perseverance. It is what Jesus calls for when he told us that the greatest commandment was to love God and neighbor. How we go about walking it out remains to be seen, the one who knows and pursues the steadfast love of God will discover how.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their name on my lips (Psalm 16:5).
Trusting in Christ means two things at once. It means trusting Christ in all things, that He is our good, that in Him we have a beautiful inheritance, that in Him we will not be shaken, or forsaken, and that in Him there is fullness of joy. On the other hand, trusting Christ means knowing that apart from him there is only misery, that idolatry only leads to sorrow.
Sin promises pleasure, or relief, or prosperity. And it sometimes delivers—in the short run, that is. But in the end, sin always leads to sorrow. Why? Scripture answers variously. Placing one’s trust in the things of this world is to trust that which moth and rust destroys, and which can be taken away (Matthew 6:19-20). All that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is hidden will be made known (Luke 12:2). Frighteningly, all who trust in idols will become like them (Psalm 115:8). Most importantly, we are created to find our satisfaction in God. David’s claim “I have no good apart from you” is not just an expression of David’s feelings, it is the foundational truth upon which the heavens and the earth depend.
In the Old Testament, drink offerings to the Lord were wine. Yet David indicates the drink offerings of idols are blood. This is telling. Pursuing idols ends in death. Pursuing God ends in a feast, abundant life experienced in the presence of God and His people.
You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Romans 2:21-23).
Beware of identifying yourselves as a Christian. The minute you do, you position yourself to be judged by a different standard. Not just by God, but by the world. The world may reject the Gospel, but it nonetheless expects those who claim to know God to live in a particular way, consistently with their profession, exhibiting the love for God and neighbor that Jesus calls for. You will be scrutinized more carefully than others, for the world expects you to be honest. Your marriage will be expected to work. You will be expected to be generous. Your driving will be expected to be gracious (especially if you have a fish or a Christian bumper sticker on your car). And so on. The world will look for hypocrisy, and will expose it (gladly) wherever it can be found. And when it finds it, the name of the Lord suffers.
Hypocrisy is not just the problem of the church. The world is at least as hypocritical as we can be. It matters not. It matters not that the world judges the church by a double standard, one that it does not apply to itself. In truth, this is a good thing, for we ought to be different. Not just better, but different. But it is also a sobering thing. For the ancient word to Israel remains the word to the church: “you shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16; cf. Lev. 11:44)