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Summary: We become more thankful when we focus on God and not on what is happening with other people.

INTRODUCTION

• VIDEO CLIP

• SLIDE #1

• Over the past couple of weeks, we have been examining the topic of being thankful.

• God created us to be thankful, and being thankful makes us appreciate the life and blessings that God has given to us.

• One of the things that can get in the way of possessing a thankful attitude is when we look around and see others, particularly when we see the wicked prosper.

• This has been an age-old problem.

• In the clip from It’s a Wonderful Life, George realizes that his dreams of living a different life than his own is nothing like he imagined.

• He prays to God that he gets his life back. When he realizes everything is back to normal, he runs through Bedford Falls thanking God and yelling jubilantly, “Merry Christmas!”

• He finds himself grateful even for the inconveniences and difficulties of life because, after all, he has the gift of life!

• George was upset and envious over how the evil Mr. Potter had prospered. He was upset that so many of his friends were living what looked like a better life than George lived.

• When we are racked with envy or when we take what we have for granted, it will keep our focus on what we don’t have rather than the life we should be thankful for.

• Today we will spend our time on Psalm 37:1-8. This Psalm is attributed to David.

• Wisdom literature, by its very nature, is designed for instruction and guidance. The present psalm was written by David when he was well advanced in years (v. 25).

• Apparently, David is concerned that those less experienced in their walk with God may be tempted, in times of adversity, to turn away.

• His aim is to admonish and to encourage them to steadfastness, especially when they are tempted to envy evildoers who enjoy great prosperity. (College Press Commentary, Psalms)

• Envy and jealousy are tools that Satan uses to keep us off focus, to keep us from enjoying the blessings we have in Christ.

• It is not David’s intent to give a lesson in theology but to present a challenge to live the life of trust in God, with the firm conviction that such a life will bring untold blessings from God, whereas a life of evil will result in ruin.

• David does not even go into the theological questions of, “Why do the wicked prosper?” “Why do the righteous suffer?”

• As to the prosperity of the wicked or the suffering of the righteous, David would answer: “Do not let what happens to others interfere with your own faithfulness to God nor to your commitment to what is right.”

• Let’s begin our journey by examining verses 1-2.

• SLIDE #2

Psalm 37:1–2 (CSB) — 1 Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong. 2 For they wither quickly like grass and wilt like tender green plants.

• SLIDE #3

SERMON

I. Trusting God requires the correct perspective.

• This Psalm opens with a challenge for the godly. We are not to take what happens with others from the wrong perspective.

• When we are looking at life from the wrong perspective, it causes us to focus on what other people have, or how others may be more prosperous than I am.

• It even gets worse when we someone we consider wicked prospering more that we are.

• In verse one, David uses the phrase, DO NOT BE AGITATED, this phrase is also used in verses 7 and 8.

• The Hebrew word means to burn.

• The verb is in the Hebrew reflexive stem, which could be translated, 'Don't work yourself into a slow burn' when you see evil men prospering.

• Don’t let it get under your skin; it will only lead you into wrong (37:8).

• In the context, we are to be envious of those who are evildoers who are prosperous.

• David tells us that those who are evil and appear to be prosperous, will one day, meet their demise.

• God is still God, and He knows what is happening.

• When we spend our time being envious of the wicked, it takes our focus off what God has blessed us with.

• As an encouragement to his readers/listeners, David offers a striking image taken from the local agricultural experience of shepherds roaming the countryside in search of grass for their animals.

• With the onset of the early spring rains, the arid hills spring quickly into a lush green covering of grass.

• Almost as quickly; however, the heat of late spring and summer, this grass turns crispy brown.

• The wicked ought not to cause anyone undue concern because their prosperity is just as tenuous as the spring grass that is “here today, gone tomorrow.” Wilson, G. H. (2002). Psalms (Vol. 1, p. 604). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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