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Singing Psalm 49 to get an honest answer

Singing Psalm 49 gives an honest answer that kisses the lips

You are touched by the proverb that an honest answer kisses the lips and cut by another proverb where the person thinks or calculates within himself, and the thought is powerful enough to impact the physiology of those who partook of his material gifts.

You recoil at the prospect that the love of money, the root of all kinds of evil, was central to him and fear that seed could easily take root and sprout within you. You need an honest answer when it comes to the pursuit of wealth as you would prefer to be kissed than to be kicked.

Psalm 49 addresses this seed and singing it instructs, warns, and sobers you to run to Jesus both for cleansing of past guilt and in gratitude for the hope of a better, more long lasting focus. Though we must use money here, there is more to consider than that it can be used for good or evil purposes.

You must proceed with caution to enjoy the rose without being pricked by its thorns. A good test to examine your affections is an honest answer to the question, ‘what could you not live without?’ You think or say aloud, “I couldn’t live without _______?”

If the blank you filled in contains anything but the triune God, you will ultimately be controlled against your will by that something or that someone.

Singing Psalm 49 gives an honest answer so that you approach your desires with both eyes open. When you are aware of the potential seducing power of your desires, you are then free to choose to enjoy people and things as gifts from your creator, your God, fully entrusting yourself only to him.

Without examining your desires to determine whether or not they are ordered or disordered, you will find that a good gift will easily morph into a false god that will surely leave you feeling duped and disappointed.

Singing Psalm 49 gives an honest answer as wise counsel from a friend

Singing Psalm 49 relays wisdom that can be likened to the attraction of the ring in Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Gollum’s attachment to it portrays that he is disordered, imbalanced, and deranged.

But when sensible Bilbo starts using the same language at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, part one of Tolkien’s trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, calling the ring ‘his precious’ and not wanting anyone to take it from him, you start to question whether the problem originated with Gollum or with the enticement of the ring itself.

Is it possible for a thing to have such a hold on a person that it changes him to the core of who he is? Can riches turn a human created for everlasting life into a beast that perishes?

You think about things that entice, things that promise what they cannot deliver or if they deliver anything, it’s not without a hook attached.

Anything that has no life or whose life can be snatched away is unstable and unsuitable for the basis of one’s identity or one’s security. What first comes to mind is money and the things it can buy since that is what seems to start a vicious cycle, a fascination with what one has, the abundance of their possessions, as the basis for what one’s life consists of.

Starting with the stuff in place, you might think that relationships will then follow and fall into place, that you can create a secure home, enjoy the finer things in life, and be protected from hurtful things. You want to be around those who have a lot in hopes that it rubs off on you.

It seems to make perfect sense to pursue money and the things that can it can buy. Except even those who sang about how you can’t buy love still seemed to try to do just that. It has a strange pull on us as humans. Even when you know better, you can’t resist it.

The difference between Gollum and Bilbo is that Gollum gave full reign to it while it took Bilbo all the strength he could muster to resist it at the earnest prompting of Gandalf, even against his better judgment, and to leave it behind. The difference between them is not in kind but in degree. To the degree that they allowed themselves to be entranced by this ring, to that degree did they become deluded, ensnared, and captive to it.

You get the sense that it took great courage for Bilbo to choose not to trust his own inclination, his own better judgment. Something or someone moved him to trust beyond himself, to trust that there is a best judgment far above himself. Something better and freeing releases him from the shackling chains of the ring he thought he must have, something far above what the subtly enslaving ring could give him. This is not unlike one who is captivated by a person’s looks without considering his or her heart or character that goes deeper than the outward impression.

Coming to his senses after receiving Gandalf’s honest answer, he now knows that he will be perfectly fine without it. “And yet it would be a relief in a way not to be bothered with it anymore. It has been so growing on my mind lately. Sometimes I have felt it was like an eye looking at me.“ ***

Only when he stopped possessing it did it stop possessing him.

A good friend will notice changes in you and warn you to help you rather than to let you fall into the pit where your deception is leading you. Like Gandalf did for Bilbo, he will give you an honest answer by painting for you a real and convincing picture that you can internalize. You snap out of the stupor caused by the whispers you hear in your head that it could never be a problem.

Some relationships should be talked out of, while others you transfer the object of your worship and together with your beloved, devote yourselves to the triune God. Any God-fearing, recovered addict knows not only the power of the substance or activity that enslaved him, but also knows better the power of the one who frees him as he transfers his object of worship to the only one who is worthy of it.

It seems odd that not only money and physical substances, but also relationships can have this effect. All of these can trick you into thinking that if you have the money, the drug of choice, or that guy or gal, you will be happy. It certainly leads you into the kingdom of self, luring you into self-worship without your consent or knowledge.

You must have it. You grasp for it. And one day you find it has you by the throat. If you are unfortunate enough to see it for what it is only after it has dragged you under, you will regret that you idolized and worshiped that which was not worthy of such attention, admiration, and devotion.

If this has happened to you, don’t despair. You can begin right now to seek the one who made you who would redeem you, the one who put that trial in your life to use it to draw you to himself since he made you to run on him and his perfect love like a car runs on gas or electric. He knows that nothing else will satisfy you, nothing else will do.

Singing Psalm 49 gives an honest answer that frees you to love well

There is a tipping point after which your possessions begin to possess you. Recall the parable of the man that built bigger barns to store all his excess grain. Jesus asks that when your life is demanded of you, who will use what you stored up for yourself, and what will it have contributed ultimately to the quality of your life?

We don’t need excess. We just need enough. And when those things wear out, we trust that we will be able to replace them with new things. All the while, we don’t put our hope or our trust in these things, but in the one who gives an abundance, all that we need, and more so that we can be generous toward others.

The Lord gives you what you can manage, what is good for you. When you continue to add to an excessive amount of belongings, you are coveting what you ought not have. Recalibrate and consider the honest answer from John the Baptist that “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven…He must increase, but I must decrease.”

When you might have opportunity to give an honest answer to one who is putting work, belongings, relationships, money, status, or anything else above the Lord in their heart, pray for the grace to love them whatever their response.

They might accept your advice profitably with gratitude. They may say they agree with you but then proceed to ignore the wisdom you have shared. They may be hostile and say they don’t want your advice. Whatever the case, you continue to pray and love even if for a time you refrain from sharing an honest answer.

Whatever you do, don’t withdraw from them and don’t worry about them. Be in their life by prayer and by proximity if they will have you. Your considering them better than yourself will speak better than words. Remember when you used to put things and other people ahead of God.

He drew you to himself so that you no longer envy others and what they have but now you adore him as you were created to do. The one who did this for you can do it for them.

Money, relationships and the two combined can be lures that lead you to idolatry. But they can be subordinated under the triune God where money is merely a tool to serve him and where relationships are also a means to a selfless end, a partnership in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ who is your all in all. They are not ends in themselves.

That neither money nor relationships are ends in themselves is the honest answer you need to point your goals to the triune God rather than to self or to another person. Elevating anything or anyone to the level of the great other who made you will inevitably disappoint because they cannot approach that standard of perfection. People are to be accepted and enjoyed for who they are strengths and weaknesses included.

But to the degree that they are entrusted with your identity and your security is the degree of your devastation in the aftermath of their fall, crashing down from the height of the pedestal on which they were placed. No person can withstand the pressure of anyone’s complete dependence. The honest answer is that God made you to completely depend upon him alone since no one else can take it except him.

Animals often repeat behavior that humans, if they were thinking, would not. When you put your trust and your hope in anything or anyone other than the triune God, you refuse the honest answer and become like the beasts that perish. They become like dogs who return to their vomit. They think they’re gaining something good but end up losing their dignity and even their humanity as they believe the lie of serving money.

Singing Psalm 49 is a poignant warning to desire nothing or no one before the one who made you. You will find that you love others more when you love God first than when you loved them first.

Money, the things it can buy, and the way that people can admire you when you have it – the hold it can have on you is frightening. If Ananias and Sapphira could, they would tell you to wrap your mind, heart, and relationships around truth and help one another serve God. Don’t get entangled in lies that lead you to end up serving money.

It is a choice that singing Psalm 49 clearly lies before you. As you come to Jesus, he will give you an honest answer to be on your guard so you can gain the understanding that frees you to love well and choose wisely.

“Do not be overawed when others grow rich,

when the splendor of their houses increases;

for they will take nothing with them when they die,

their splendor will not descend with them.

Though while they live they count themselves blessed—

and people praise you when you prosper—

they will join those who have gone before them,

who will never again see the light of life.

People who have wealth but lack understanding

are like the beasts that perish.” ~ Psalm 49:16-20

May 20, 2022


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