Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Pr 23:17-18
I’ve been reading through Proverbs over the last week and this verse seems to sum up the theme of proverbs: to be wise is to see that God is better and the only lasting good. How often I’ve envied sinners in my heart. How often I’ve wanted what was forbidden me because I doubted that God had something better in store. When I’m tempted to secure my own good and pleasure, when my heart starts to yearn for that which it wasn’t meant for, I need to remember that, “God is Good so I don’t have to look elsewhere.”
The brokenness and emptiness that we often feel in this world will never be cured by attaining some other broken and empty thing. This world is fading. This world will one day end and my life here will end as well. Yet while my life will end here, there is surely a hope for me. God sent His Son, Jesus, into this broken world. He repaired my broken relationship with God by paying the debt I owed Him because of my rebellion. One day he’ll also repair this broken world, my broken body, and my broken soul. I’ll experience the ultimate good when God restores all things and I’ll see him face-to-face and live with him forever.
God is Good. I don’t have to look elsewhere. I don’t have to chase fleeting pleasure I can never keep. Rather I can be zealous for God’s good, because his good will last. My hope in His good will not be cut off. There is surely a hope for me. There is surely a hope for us.
picture found here
In fall of 2010, I attended Soma School in Tacoma, WA. When I was there, I was exposed to a great way of examining our lives, and preaching the Gospel to ourselves, called the 4 Gs. They are from a great book called, You Can Change by Tim Chester. The 4 Gs are a way of looking at your own life, sins, insecurities, and compulsions and examining them with the truth of the Gospel.
Chester asserts that under all sin and anxiety is a disbelief about God. So if I sin or am having difficulties in life, I ask myself the question: “What am I not believing about God?” Below are the 4 Gs that Chester has distilled as the main catch-all truths that we tend to forget.
1. God is Great – so we don’t have to be in control
2. God is Glorious – so we don’t have to fear others
3. God is Good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere
4. God is Gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves
Knowing these truths have been liberating in my life. They Address my sin with the life-giving Gospel and not just the law. The result is that I’m motivated out of what God has done for me, not out of my fear of what he could do to me. This is how the 4 G’s can work in Life:
God Is Great
Bill is anxious. He’s been working at the same job for the last 8 years. At one point, that would have given Bill a lot of security, but it seems that every other month they start talking layoffs. Some days Bill works twice as fast as anyone else, pushing himself constantly into exhaustion. When he gets home, he can’t rest. He just wonders if it’s going to be tomorrow, next week, or next month, that he’s going to get that pink slip.
Bill need to remember that “God is Great so we don’t have to be in Control.” God created the universe and keeps it running. The seasons always change. The sun never fails to come up. Though there is drought, rain eventually falls, and the land produces what we need to live. God provides for all we need for our bodies and lives. God moved and worked in History to preserve Israel and the line of the Messiah. Jesus demonstrated power over raging winds and water. He healed the sick and the lame. He opened the eyes of the blind and the hears of the deaf. He even demonstrated power over death as he raised Lazarus and after he himself was raised from the dead. God is great – greater than anything. Bill, and all of us, don’t have to worry, because He’s in control.
God is Glorious
Jamie been a Christian for about 5 years now. She was out with her friends last night. They don’t live like she wants to, but she stays in their lives because she wants to witness. Yet she’s always afraid to bring up anything about Christ. At around 11pm, Jamie told them she had to get going so that she could get up for church the next morning. Yet they convinced her to stay ’til the bar closed down. Jamie ended up drinking more than she wanted to. She said some things she regretted, and was too tired to go to church the next morning. She’s been kicking herself all day because she was influenced away from Christ rather than towards him.
Jamie needs to remember that “God is Glorious so that she doesn’t have to fear others.” God is the all-powerful creator of everything. He dwells in unapproachable light. The mere presence of His angels cause men to fall to their knees in terror. Those who enter his presence fall on their faces and expect death because of God’s Holiness. The earth trembles at his voice. His Justice is perfect. His Grace is all extending. He is merciful and forgiving. He clothes himself in splendor and is the desire of all human hearts.
Chester suggests that when you fear someone and seek their approval over God’s, “Imagine God next to him or her. Which of them is more glorious, majestic, holy, beautiful, threatening, and loving? Whose approval really matters to you?” All should fear God because he has the power over your life and the power to give you paradise or hell. Yet as Christians, the fear should really be expressed as awe, because God has given us assurance in life because of Christ. He could bring us to justice, but he took our judgment upon himself, so that we’re now given mercy. CHrist is more glorious. His opinion of us should matter more than anyone’s.
God is Good
Robert has been failing sexually. It seems like all of his Christians friends are happily married and are allowed to have sex. Robert on the other hand is still waiting and wonders if God will ever give him a wife. His other friends don’t care at all about what God says and seem to be enjoying one sexcapade after another. They keep telling him that what he does with his body doesn’t matter, that God would want him to be happy, that he’s missing all his opportunities. Robert’s stumbled onto pornography sites at times. He choses to watch questionable movies, hoping to stumble upon some vivid sex scene or nudity. Almost every girl he knows has had sex and seem to even expect in relationships. He’s starting to think that he should be willing to have sex to keep the girl he’s been dating.
Robert needs to remember that “God is Good so we don’t have to look elsewhere”. In our day-to-day moments, we call fall under the illusion that we need to get the most joy out of the time we have. Waiting in abstinence for a husband or wife seems far crueler than enjoying the high and pleasure of casual sex. We forget the promises and love that is intended in a life long monogamous marriage. We know how God says we ought to live, be we lose sight of the blessings of living in his ways now, and the never-ending joys of eternity, and so we indulge in sinful pleasures acting as if they are our only chance at happiness. We need to remember that God is Good. He has our best good in mind. He is better than any fleeting pleasure in this life. In his presence there is fullness of joy forevermore. God is Good, so we don’t have to look elsewhere.
God is Gracious
Angie has spent her life trying to be the best, trying to succeed….and she usually does. Yet as she’s gotten older, she just doesn’t have the energy. She can’t be the most productive at work and the most attentive Mom at home. The cracks are starting to show in her perfect life. She’s starting to feel incompetent, the very fear that drove her all her life. Her boss has had to go to other people because he’s noticed the strain she’s under. Suddenly, she doesn’t sense his approval. Suddenly, because she doesn’t feel the approval of the people around her, she starts wondering if she has God’s approval as well.
Angie, and we, need to remember that we have God’s approval already. His approval is not even something that we’ve earned. In fact, what we have earned is death with our lives. Yet God gives us life freely. We have his approval already because of Christ. At Christ’s baptism God speaks over Jesus, “This is my Son, with whom I’m well please.” Because of Christ, God speaks those same words over us. You are His son or daughter, with whom God is well pleased because of Christ. We dont’ have to perform. “God is Gracious so we don’t have to prove ourselves.” We can rest in God’s grace.
These 4 Gs can be uses to preach the gospel to yourself but also to others. They help us find the lie beneath the sin and confront it with the truth of the Gospel. Ideally, all Christians in your MC or church will learn how to use these 4 Gs so that we have a common language to use in addressing each other’s lives and encouraging eachother in the faith.
Here are some Questions to ponder:
- Where do you tend to not beleive the Gospel?
- What “G” speaks most into your life? How is it freeing you?
- What truth do the Christians around you need the most?
- Who can can you walk closely with that can use the 4 Gs to Gospel you?
Here is a link to the Sermon I preached on the 4 Gs entitled, How to Kill Sin.
Soma School covers the 4 Gs pretty extensively. Here is a link to the Audio of their training as well as the material they hand out.
Chester’s book, You Can Change, is a must read on the topic.