Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Luke 1:5-23; Ephesians 4:17-24; Psalm 119:65-72; 1 Kings 21-22
Psalm 119:65-72 is a prayer for wisdom and good judgement. Ethics strives for the same traits in living the moral life. The psalmist is convinced that such wisdom lies with God and is available in the Bible. Several words are used here for the Bible, as they are throughout Psalm 119. It is the God’s Word, his commandments, his decrees, his precepts, his law. Whichever term he uses, he delights in God’s advice and commandments, believing this will be good for him. To live healthy, wealthy, and wise requires living according to what God declares in his Word. The psalmist knows he has a lot to learn about how to do this properly.
What also jumps out of this passage is the psalmist’s love of the Word. God’s law is not a burden. It is not a weight on his shoulders. He delights in the law; he wants to learn it; the law is more precious to him than all the money in the world. What gives him this attitude? Why is he not looking over his shoulder, fearful of the next time he might be caught breaking the law?
The psalmist loves the law because he knows the law-giver. His confidence in the law rests on knowing that God is good and what he commands is good. He knows his God and if God tells us that this is the right way to live, that will be the best way to live. In a similar way, Paul points out in Ephesians 4 that the best life is lived according to the truth, and that truth is Jesus Christ. Living without him leads to futility, darkened understanding and hardness of heart.
Paul is not claiming here that those who do not believe in God can do no good. He is rejecting the general lifestyle of living without God. This clouds the mind and dulls the heart through absorption with one’s self. We see a clear example of this in 1 Kings 21. King Ahab’s inability to obtain Naboth’s vineyard consumes him to where he lies in bed depressed. His lust for that property blinds him to Jezebel’s scheming and murder. Likewise, we can turn a blind eye to the injustices involved in supporting our consumption of the world’s good. We are insensitive to unethical trading and banking practices because of our continual lust for more. As the psalmist noted, we become callous and unfeeling when we ignore God’s truth.
Paul reminds us that the answer requires a complete overhaul. Ethical codes and classes will not be enough to change things. Our old self is totally corrupted, in its thinking and its desires. Emotional commitments are involved here as well as our beliefs. Our minds and hearts must be renewed. We must put on a complete new self.
We renew our minds by soaking them in the Word of God, as the psalmist did. This leads to insight and understanding, but also sensitivity. Our hearts and attitudes should change as our thinking is transformed. This then leads to action, where we live, not as the Gentiles do, but as Christ did.