Are we staying in the middle of the Way?
Proverbs 30:7-9 “Two things have I required of Thee; deny me them not before I die:
Remove far from me vanity and lies; Give me neither poverty or riches, feed me with food convenient for me:
Lest I be full, and deny Thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.”
This “middle of the Way”, comes from my reading Pilgrims Progress.
It is when Christian is hurrying up the hill of Difficulty, and it is growing dark….that he sees two lions; one on either side of the Way!
This sight frightens and stops Christian for a moment…..till the Porter of the House Beautiful (the local Church), calls out to him:
“Can’t you see they are chained….they can only come so far into the Way. You will be safe….as long as you stay in the middle of the Way.”
And how often it is the same for us…..when circumstances frighten….because we were not prepared,….
…..or we have expected,…..since we have “climbed this hill of Difficulty”,…..that things will be easy…..
We get frightened….then stop.
It is good the Lord often calls out to us, through the Word, or a message, or a fellow Christian…..that we may see that the lions are chained.
(How grateful to the Lord Jesus for this!)
These verses are some I love. They set the goal of my life on the right footing.
Giving God charge of what is in store for me….and petitioning (“required” here means “earnestly beseeching”) our Lord, that He keep us “in the middle of the Way.”
“Remove me far from vanity and lies”. Far from, is where we all should want to be, from the useless things of this world,….and that is what “vanity” is.
And from lies…..lies that I want to believe….or that are spread abroad about others, or me.
Our Lord taught us to pray: (Matthew 6:13) “And lead us not into temptation”…..for He has made a way to escape, if we will seek it (1 Corinthians 10:13)……but when I fall into it…….
…..”but deliver us from evil”…..the evil one, the devil, and his tricks…..and the evil of coming under the influence of my fall.
Not be rich….either in money, prestige, or success….so I won’t get proud and begin to think I do not need the Lord. (Luke 12:16-21)
Not be poor….either in money, friends, or spiritual experience….so I won’t envy others…..or be angry with You, Lord, and “take the name of my God in vain”.
This “take the name of my God in vain” (and notice is it “my God”)……does not mean swearing…..
……but in the Hebrew, means: “accusing God of not being what His Name says He is”. To accuse God’s mercy and love, of being false.
He is Merciful, Righteous, Glorious, Gracious, full of loving-kindness, and peace.
But when circumstances grow difficult…..trials come…..and we seem quite unable to meet them….we are poor, then….
…do we still feel the same way, toward the Lord?
I had given a study on Galatians, and then began Philippians, once,……when my son….who was little at the time….
….said, Dad, I like this study better than that other one.
…..Because this one has happy people in it…the other one didn’t.
And he was right, though I had not seen it before,….like that…..
The Galatians were trying so hard to be superior Christians…..and had gotten tricked into thinking their own works…following the law…..would add to their value to the Lord. (Galatians 1:6-8)
The Philippians, on the other hand,
(and I recommend, if you have not read it lately, to do so again! Nine times, more than any other book in the New Testament, “rejoice” is used. Six times “joy” is used.)
…..were being persecuted, [Philippians 1:28-30],….yet only sought to be steadfast to the Lord Jesus Christ…..and they were joyful in it!
They were a poor church, yet sent an offering to Paul for his needs. (Philippians 4:15)
What a difference in the two books!
Listen to the epistle the Apostle wrote:
Philippians 1:9 “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;”
Philippians 1:25-26 “And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.”
Philippians 3:1 “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord…..”
He tells them of the way he has walked….what the Lord has shown him:
Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”
Paul loves them dearly, writing:
Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”
And then, in this epistle, he clearly speaks of true contentment:
Philippians 4:11-12 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
This is the same way the writer of Proverbs sought to live…..but Paul adds a blessed reality of how we can do this:
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Here is the secret of contentment…..of being neither rich or poor…..but staying in the middle of the Way……
….”through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Our Way is before us,…..our life is always a next step with Jesus Christ.
Let us “stay in the middle of the Way”……the lions are chained, though they roar, and frighten….stay with Him, and let Him give us the strength for what is ahead.