“Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places: Thou castedst them down into destruction. How are thy brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when Thou awakest, Thou shalt despise their image.” (Psalm 73:18-20)
Asaph, in the above passage, is complaining of a similar thing as was David in the seventeenth Psalm. There are those, as he refers to in verse 12 as “the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” Nothing wrong with having lots of money for its own sake. Paul writes to Timothy and puts his finger on “them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded.” (1 Timothy 6:17) But, as my dad taught me growing up, “money is a tool”. It’s so easy, especially once you’ve tasted want and lack (supposedly) to see a little bit more money as, not just a blessing, but a mirage without knowing it. And when Asaph says “Thou shalt despise their image”, it means those who stood out and boasted and bragged about substance that wasn’t really, and are no better than a dream that got your hopes up only to dash them upon waking. When all is said and done, God sees right through (and loves) everyone.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)
That’s stark. But that has to be the core of your attitude toward this world. Jesus says “he that hateth his life”. It’s not talking about self-loathing and inwardly-directed derision. It’s referring to the fact that our old life will grow up like a weed and choke out the life of God in us, if left unchecked. In Paul’s above exhortation to Timothy, he closes out the thought with “the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”. If we lose sight of this side of God’s face, we will indeed view him as a monster (remember the Likeness Monster? Hilarious.). Paul says in Acts (17:25) that God “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.”
Here’s a point I want to get across, God is not two-faced. Unlike Janus of the Roman pantheon, God is love. And He’s always looking at you. One of the problems I have with a judgment-based outlook and worldview is that it tends to be blind to the devil and his machinations in the world. Yes, God is love and the punishment for choosing to live in sin after accepting Christ is severe. Don’t wanna touch it nor even look at it. But if you rewind back to your birth in Christ, to where God worked all the surroundings and everyone involved (believer and non) in your favor–leaving the ninety and nine, so to speak–just to retrieve you from the jaws of hell, you’ll glimpse His tenderness and lovingkindness toward you. This is bedrock. And this, I fear, is what gets layered upon with all the stuff of the world when we let it affect us and shape us beyond what God would have it do, if that makes sense. And what’s the remedy? If you find yourself caught up in a way of living that isn’t outwardly sinful but that neglects the God who invited you in, tell Him. Let Him know that you want “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3) and know that it doesn’t begin with your outward appearance or any of that. It’s an inward tenderness in return that sees life as a gift and all its accoutrements, too.
“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” (1 John 17:21)