Giving to Those on Your Path (Psalm 119:103-105)
Topic: Psalms Passage: Psalm 119:103–119:105
Season of Giving
Giving to Those on Your Path
December 22nd, 2013
(One Truth: Your Word is Truth)
I. Going Down that Road
This morning let me begin with a very well-known passage from the Bible. This is Luke 10, verses 25-37 (you can turn there if you’d like). As I read these verses, think about our focus from the past several weeks and how it relates to this passage...
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”  And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”  But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Jesus replied...[“well your neighbor who lives next door to you or across the street from you...what are you dense?”...no that of course is not what Jesus said...this is how He responded...] “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.  He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’  Which of these three [asked Jesus...which of the three], do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”  He said [the lawyer said], “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Now, there are a couple reasons I wanted to begin with that passage this morning.
First, that passage is wonderful reminder of how God has called us to give lovingly and lavishly to those in need, just as we've been talking about in this series on giving. We've talked about giving to the poor, to the needy in our community. We've talked about giving to the needy around the world as we give to God's global work of bring new life and hope to all people.
And last week we talked about the needs of our brothers and sisters. Yes, at different times various brothers and sisters need financial assistance to get them through. But as we've already talked about, giving is about more than just giving money, as important as that can be. But as we saw last time, what all of us need all the time is to be built up, to be encouraged in the truth. I hope you had an opportunity this past week to encourage a brother or sister in your church family.
The second reason I wanted to begin with that parable is because of what it tells us about those in need. Notice how the lawyer wanted to DEFINE his neighbor (or at least wanted Jesus to define the term neighbor; and hopefully it would be a definition that was to the man's liking). But Jesus tells the man, “We don't define who are neighbors are. We DISCOVER them...on the path. And when I do, I should first BE a neighbor to such a person, not ask if they ARE a neighbor to me.
So what do I mean when I say, “on the path”? I mean, where the course of your life takes you, you will discover people all along the way. And where does the course of your life take you? Into your home...into your workplace...into your community...into the lives of your relatives...into the grocery store and gas station...onto an airplane or a line at the DMV.
And sometimes you DISCOVER people in more of a virtual way. You hear about the firend of a co-worker who has a sick child. You hear about an opportunity to help a pastor in a far-off country. You meet a friend online, and discover he or she is struggling with depression. You may never meet this person face-to-face, but they are still on your path.
And so even though the people on your path are very different (some well-off, some poor; some old, some young; some black, some brown, some white; some just down the street, some around the world, some related to you, some strangers to you; some trusting in Christ, some lost in a spiritual hopelessness)...even though they will be very different, there is always one thing every single one of them needs: they all need the word of God.
While we might give of our time or finances or skills to some of these people on our path, we should always be looking to give them the word of God. Now last week, we talked about giving the word of God to our church family; we talked about “speaking the truth in love” and building one another up in our shared faith.
But what about our kids? What about our co-workers? What about your spouse? What about the man or woman who cuts your hair? How can we give God's word to each of these people?
Well, before we answer that questions, let's look together and Psalm 119. What I'd like us to think about first is why the word of God is the very best thing we can give to all people.
II. The Passage: “How Sweet are Your Words” (119:103-105)
With 176 verses, Psalm 119 is not only the longest psalm in the Bible, it could also be called the longest chapter in the Bible. And the wonderful thing about this psalm is that its focus is on the word of God. So here's what we're going to do this morning. Get comfortable, because we are going to look very carefully at, we are going to dissect every single verse. No. I'm kidding. If did that, this service would go right on into the Christmas Family service tonight. It would all be one very long service.
No, this morning, I want to look at only three verses. Look at verses 103-105. Let me read those verses, and as I do, think about what they tell us about why God's word is the very best thing we can give to every person in our life. This is what the psalmist writes...
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
What I want you to see here is how the goodness of God's word is explained as the writer expands our vision with each verse.
1. Sweetness (v. 103)
For example, look back at verse 103. We see there that the word of God is the very best gift because it is “sweet”. How sweet? “Sweeter than honey”. Now if it's one thing we know about during this time of the year it's sweets, right? Everyone loves something sweet. And sweet, sugary things have a way of exciting our taste buds, don't they? There's a reason the candy and dessert industry makes so much money every year. We love sweets!
But I'm not here to promote sweets. We have to be very careful and very disciplined when it comes to sweets. No, what I'm saying is that I think all of us understand the power of the language. But do we think of the word of God in this same way? Is God's word “sweet like honey”. Does it excite your spiritual taste buds? It should. But why?
2. Understanding (v. 104)
Well, that's where verse 104 comes in. Again, look at how the writer is expanding our vision from verse to verse. Why is the word of God so “sweet”? Because through God's “precepts” (through His commands, through His instructions) we “get understanding”. What is the opposite of “understanding”? It's confusion. It's ignorance. It's uncertainty. Have you ever been in a place of confusion, ignorance, and uncertainty? If you have been, then you know how “sweet” it is when you gain “understanding”.
The word is so “sweet” because it helps us savor what it truly life; the life God has for us. That's why the writer goes on to say, “therefore I hate every false way”, or we might say, “I hate every counterfeit, everything that promises, but only pretends to give us life. But why is this understanding so important? Won't people eventually figure out what is true and false, just through trial and error?
3. Light (v. 105)
No, look at verse 105 again. The sweetness of the understanding we gain through God's word stems from the fact that without the word, we are terribly lost in what we could call a spiritual darkness. That's why the psalmist can describe the word here as a “lamp” and a “light”. Without the word, we are hopelessly lost. We will stumble in the darkness. We truly have no idea where we're going, and even if we did, we would never get there.
But God's word shows us the way, doesn't it? I love how Paul expresses these very same ideas in II Corinthians 4:4-6. He tells his readers about how...
...the god of this world [that's the Devil] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light [of what?...]of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The gospel is the word of God. And the word of God, all of it leads us to the gospel. So think about it for a minute: the word of God is so sweet because it gives us understanding of what is truly life, in order to rescue us from the horrible consequences of being lost forever in spiritual darkness.
In light of that, is there really anything better we could give to those on our path? Anything as sweet? Anything that gives as much understanding? Anything that truly shines and illuminates like the word of God? No matter what kinds of gifts you've already given, or what kinds of gifts you are ready to give this week, they simply cannot compare to the gift of God's word.
III. Ways to Give the Greatest Gift
And so, if you agree with the psalmist, if his words express your heart, then the only question is “How? How will you give the word of God to those on your path?”
Maybe it means you will give a Bible to a person you know who doesn't have one. Maybe it means you will write out some relevant verses on a card for a person who going through a difficult time. Maybe it means you will write a verse or pass along a small booklet inside your Christmas cards. Maybe in your testimony. Maybe it means you will set aside some time in your schedule to study the Bible with someone you know who is asking questions.
Fathers, here's a really easy one for this week: this Tuesday evening or this Wednesday morning, read the Christmas story from Luke 1 and 2, and/or from Matthew 1 and 2. Maybe you could read it with your relatives if you are getting together with family this week.
But these are all just suggestions. The key here is that you...that YOU would pray and consider how YOU can give the word to those on YOUR path. As we seek God for this very thing, God will honor that desire. He WILL give you ideas and opportunities. And He WILL use it to drive you back to the word, that you would personally savor its sweetness; that you would gain understanding; that you would press forward as the word of God illuminates your path.
You see, in the end, in all the ways we give, the word should always be our ultimate goal. We gladly give this or that in order that, ultimately, we might gladly give God's word, to every person in our life. If we give out of love, then what is most loving is to give according to a person's genuine needs. And what is our deepest need if not our need for God. And that's exactly who we get when we get the word; when we embrace it through faith.
One of the things underlying all of these messages about giving is the simple truth that every instance of God-glorifying giving begins with giving yourself to God.
Did you know that, in terms of you giving others the word, the greatest need the people in your life have is for you to be a person who is receiving the word? Do you understand that? If you try to simply conform to some formula of handing out Scripture, but your heart is not being conformed to the word of God, your going to struggle…big time.
Remember the words of the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (20:35). There is no better place to see the truth of those words than in the consequences of giving the word to others and seeing them changed by the power of Almighty God. And not just in a ‘here and now’ kind of way, but forever and ever. The word of God is the one thing you can give someone else that can change their eternal destiny.
Yes, God can use your loving acts, your distinct lifestyle. But at some point, He will use the word, because only the word can bring new life. Remember what Paul said…
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
Where are you this morning? God wants to give you His word. In fact, He just did. Now what will you do with it? Give it away, this week...every week.
More in Season of Giving
December 15, 2013Giving to Your Church Family (Ephesians 4:25-32)
December 8, 2013Giving to God's Global Work (II Corinthians 9:6-15)
December 1, 2013Giving to the Needy (Proverbs 14:21)