“The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Psalm 37:30–31

Lost to most observers is the fact that spiritually growing believers provide incredible benefits to the world, society, and local communities. Most Americans think that goodness is the natural product of an enlightened, well-meaning, and progressive populace, but it is demonstrably true that populations tend to fall short of true virtue. If anything, tyranny seems to subdue liberty everywhere progressivism prevails.

There will be no time when this truth is more evident than the time immediately following the Rapture of the Church. 2 Thessalonians 2:6–12 prophesies that time: “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming….” Until the Rapture, the ministry of the Holy Spirit restraining evil in this world is exerted through the “salt and light” provided by faithful believers. It will be a sad day when the source of good in this world—believers’ godliness—is removed and the world will follow its progressive thinking down the primrose path to Satan’s tyranny without opposition from those pesky Christians!

Not only are Christians blessed because of godly living (Matthew 5–7), they are also a source of blessing by living godly (Psalm 15). Skill at godly living always comes from spiritual growth forged in the heat of adversity. This truth is found throughout the Scriptures, by precept and by example. Whether it is seen in the narrative of the life of a patriarch, a prophet, or of a New Testament saint, godliness unmistakably shines bright when contrasted to the darkness of the chronic human condition without God. While there is always a cost to spiritual growth, the benefits are never only for the believer. His world around him is always made a better place.

Paul puts it this way: “…We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character, and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3–5; 2 Corinthians 4). Peter echoes Paul’s teaching in 2 Peter 1:1–11, “…add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brother kindness love….”

King David was no stranger to the refining fire of adversity. He starts Psalm 37 with these words, “Do not fret because of evildoers…. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD…. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him…. But those who wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.” He then unpacks the effective qualities of the patient believer, especially in verses 16 through 24.

The first quality he lists is significance: “A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked” (v. 16). Riches can be translated noise, tumult, sound (like rain, many raindrops). This verse is a critique of our culture’s thralldom to notoriety, glitz, fame, and lavish living. The comparative little of the righteous man has more real weight than all the noise of our culture’s “leading lights.” When the godly man puts his “little” to work for the Lord, it is inevitably significant for God works through it.

The godly man is sustained: “But the LORD upholds the righteous” (v. 17). The godly is sustained by His arms. God’s sustaining grace is rarely a personal matter but spills over to others.

The godly man lives with guarantees from God Himself: “The LORD knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever” (v. 18). There is always virtue derived from those who pursue an upward walk with God.

The godly man is provided for: “They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied” (v. 19). God always satisfies His children with enough so they may minister to the needs of others. God gives (John 3:16) so we also give.

The godly man is enduring: “But the wicked shall perish…like the splendor of the meadows, they shall vanish” (v. 20). Because God sustains, guarantees, and provides for His children, His children will endure out to the end! God will have victory!

The godly man is generous: “The righteous shows mercy and gives” (v. 21). Mercy is from the antiquated meaning of liberal; the quality of generosity is true of the godly man to such a decree that he can give.

The godly man is blessed: “Those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth” (v. 22). This follows the thread begun in verse 11 and exposited upon by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount.

The godly man is directed by God: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way” (v. 23). The meaning is, “With Jehovah are a man’s steps found fitly arranged.” There is always going to be a lasting purpose to the course a godly man’s life takes.

Finally, the godly man is protected: “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds His hand” (v. 24). There is an A#1, top-drawer quality to godliness that influences friends, family, society, and ultimately, your nation. “Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for the future of that man is peace” (v. 37). Be salt and light. Trust and obey.