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No Good Apart from God

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.


Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” – Psalm 16:1-2

What do you treasure in this life? We all have something that brings us great delight or somewhere that just seems restful and right. Sometimes, though, we catch a glimpse of life without those earthly pleasures. Maybe it’s illness or even bereavement that clarifies things for us. What kind of car you drive away from the hospital when you find out that your loved one has been diagnosed with malignant cancer doesn’t matter, does it? The same goes for your clothes, your jewelry, your gadgets, your house—all of a sudden, they’re not nearly as important as they once seemed.

We can and should enjoy what God has graciously given us. He “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). It’s not that the good things of the earth are bad. But what we have in God is so delightful, so rich, that coming to know Him is like discovering a treasure hidden in a field. That treasure so enraptures us that in our joy, we do whatever it takes to get that field and the delights it contains (Matthew 13:44).

Without the treasure we have in God, as Psalm 16 tells us, we ultimately have no other good. When we sit down to a bowl of cereal or oatmeal or whatever breakfast may be, in our minds we ought to be saying, Apart from You, Lord, I have no good thing. You’re the one that made the grain to grow. You’re the one who provides my food. When we get up and walk out of the door, and have health and strength to do so, who makes it possible for us to walk? When we lie on our beds at night and we can enter into the rest of the evening, who makes it possible?

You have no ability even to see these letters, to hold up this book, or to comprehend what you are reading apart from the enabling grace of God. Only He can preserve and sustain us. Only God gives to us “life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). In the end, we have no good apart from Him—but He has more than enough goodness to go around. He is the source of all our treasures—and He is Himself our greater treasure. When you see Him as He truly is, your natural response will be to make Him the center of your life, around which revolve your thoughts, decisions, feelings, and actions. That is, you will say to Him, “You are my Lord,” for in His presence “there is fullness of joy,” and at His right hand are “pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Where else would you possibly prefer to take refuge, and what else would you treasure more than Him?

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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