How am I waiting?

Matthew 5:20–26

Jesus said, “I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”

Psalm 130:1-6

1 Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice; *
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

2 If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, *
O Lord, who could stand?

3 For there is forgiveness with you; *
therefore you shall be feared.

4 I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; *
in his word is my hope.

5 My soul waits for the Lord,
more than watchmen for the morning, *
more than watchmen for the morning.

6 O Israel, wait for the Lord, *
for with the Lord there is mercy;7 With him there is plenteous redemption, *
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

Psalm 130 is thought to have been written by David while truly in a wilderness, fearing for his life.  As David pours out his heart (out of the depths) to God during a time of distress and fear, he acknowledges his position to an all-mighty and powerful king. David fully knows that God is the God of forgiveness. He alone can give it. Therefore, God is the one to be feared, not man. David seeks God with his soul. 

As I read this Psalm, I picture a beautiful, yet, lively conversation with God. David presents himself before the Lord, fully open and vulnerable, begging the Lord to hear him.  But then David does something that we wrestle to do:  He waits. How can he wait when his life is on the line? However,  His soul is in a posture of waiting. And as David waits, he waits with anticipation. You see, the watchmen aren’t passively chewing gum and shooting the breeze, they are actively engaged with the world around them. Listening for sounds, watching for a change in the light. They don’t know what they are waiting for except a possibility.  

But the lesser King David knows what he is waiting for. He waits for more than what the watchmen are anticipating.  He is awaiting an answer from the King of the Universe.  He is waiting for the Lord.  Because the Lord brings with him good gifts:  forgiveness and redemption, David knew that earthly kings only offered to execute punishment. God brought a way to be forgiven and back brought to himself, his son.   And in his lament, he waits. 

Looking forward, as we are fortunate to do, we see King Jesus, sitting in the New Testament, teaching his disciples.  As students, they are waiting to hear the Lord as he unfolds his plan for a kingdom.  A kingdom of meekness, mercy, and peace. 

As a good teacher, he provides them with an example. He tells them something they are aware of murder.  Murder leads to judgment.  And then he goes even deeper. Jesus says it’s so much more than murder. It starts with this kernel of anger, that, when allowed to grow, goes much farther than ever intended. As your anger grows, the consequence gets even greater, eventually leading to condemnation for yourself.

In his kingdom, there is no place for this.  He gives the disciples a plan for how to squash it out.  Go to your brother. Make it right. Forget about your ritual for worship. The bigger thing here is the condition of your heart.  Have peace with your brother or sister.   Don’t allow unrighteous anger to steal your peace and your joy in the midst of waiting.  It will take our eyes off of Christ and make it laser-focused on the person or thing that we are so embittered towards, keeping us from doing the good works God has given to us to do.

What’s the answer then for us who are waiting on both the eternal kingdom and the kingdom of today: lament. These are some simple actionable steps away from anger and towards God’s kingdom perspective.

  1.  Confess humbly before God your desperate need for Him and His presence.  Psalm 130:1
  2. Confess to God who He is and who you are in relation to Him.  It is only through Jesus that we have a righteousness exceeding the Pharisees. Jesus alone is our righteousness. Psalm 130:2
  3. Recognize the waiting is part of God’s plan. We are the creation and He is the Creator.  Our timeline is not the same as God’s.  2 Peter 2:9
  4. Openly praise God for His mercy and redemption. Psalm 130:6-