Archive for October, 2011

October 17, 2011

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

by Bethany

Relevant Text: Prov. 26:13

Perception | It’s nearly impossible to know the true facts of any situation. Almost everything we see is colored by our perceptions. This is why, for example, the law considers eyewitness accounts to be “opinion” testimony; they’re admittedly impacted by expectations, biases, prejudices, hopes, motives, attitudes, backgrounds, abilities and environments.

Hearts | Our perceptions are also colored by our deceptive hearts [2]. Most of us worship idols – that is, we inordinately love false gods that come in the form of created things like money or sex or power [3]. Everything we see is colored by these idols. For example, years ago, a tobacco lobbyist named Victor Crawford – himself a smoker with throat cancer – admitted that his love of money influenced his perception of the truth: “I’m not proud of having lobbied for them. I think it’s ironic. And in a way, I think I got my just desserts, because, in my heart, I knew better. But I rationalized and denied, because the money was so good and because I could always rationalize it. That’s how you make a living, by rationalizing that black is not black; it’s white, it’s green, it’s yellow. But I knew, in my heart, that what the Surgeon General said was right” [4].

Self-Deception | This is how our sinful hearts and minds work – our deepest desires guide our rational thoughts and cause us to think that our desires – although wrong – are right. But our hearts are not neutral observers of the truth. They create illusions. Thus, Solomon wrote, “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!’” [5]. Sluggards want to stay at home and be lazy, so they use their minds to create reasons to justify what they already want to do – even to the point where they believe their own self-deceptions.

Hope | Is there any hope? Yes! As God spoke through Jeremiah, “I, the LORD, search the heart and examine the mind” [6]. Jesus came not only to show us how to live, but also to give us new hearts and minds [7]. Although he shatters our self-deception by piercing our souls with truth, he also welcomes us into his family by embracing us with unconditional love.

Prayer | Lord, Almost everything we see isn’t as it seems because our perceptions are colored by our idols and self-deception. Therefore, we ask that you pierce our hearts and reveal the truth. Open our eyes to see you. Amen.

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Footnotes: [1]  Pogo. Cartoon.  |  [2]  As Jeremiah prophesied, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9 NIV 1984).  |  [3]  As Paul lamented, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25 NIV 1985).  |  [4]  Roger Rosenblatt, “How Do Tobacco Executives Live With Themselves?” The New York Times Magazine. 20 March 1994.  |  [5]  Prov. 26:13 NIV 1984  |  [6]  Jer. 17:10 NIV 1984  |  [7]  “God … made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6 NIV 1984).

October 14, 2011

He Who Finds a Wife Finds What Is Good

by Bethany

Relevant Text: Prov. 18:22
Full Text: Prov. 17-19

 He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the LORD.

Marriage | In their forthcoming book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim and Kathy Keller argue for “the surprising goodness of marriage” [1]. Yet, they lament how perceptions of marriage have changed: “Marriage used to be a public institution for the common good, and now it is a private arrangement for the satisfaction of the individuals. Marriage used to be about us, but now it is about me[2]. Tim reflects on his own marriage-seeking: “When I met my future wife, Kathy, we sensed very quickly that we shared an unusual number of books, stories, themes, ways of thinking about life, and experiences that brought us joy. We recognized in one another a true ‘kindred spirit’ and the potential for a bond of deep friendship” [3]. According to a 2002 study, however, modern men looking for a wife prioritize physical attractiveness and – even more – compatibility, which they define as a “willingness to take them as they are and not change them” [4]. Yet, the Kellers note, “This is a significant break with the past. Traditionally, men married knowing it would mean a great deal of personal alteration” [5].

Gospel | As Tim and Kathy continue, “The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace” [6].

Prayer | Lord, The gospel teaches us about marriage and marriage teaches us about the gospel. Although You chose us while we were still sinners, You do not leave us as we are. Therefore, we praise You for transforming us through Your love and truth in Christ. Amen.

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You are invited:
The Meaning of Marriage
Book Launch & Signing
Tuesday, November 1 at 7 pm
New York Society of Ethical Culture, 2 W 64 @ CPW (map)
Tickets are free, but you must register because space is limited: here.

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[1] Timothy and Kathy Keller. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, Penguin (2011), p23.  |  [2] Id. at 29.  |  [3] Id. at 30.  |   [4] Id.  |  [5] Id. at 31. As they continue, “Part of the traditional understanding of marriage was that it ‘civilized’ men. Men have been perceived as being more independent and less willing and able than women to enter into relationships that require mutual communication, support and teamwork. So one of the classic purposes of marriage was very definitely to ‘change’ men and be a ‘school’ in which they learned how to conduct new, more interdependent relationships.”  |  [6] Id. at 48.

October 13, 2011

How to Please the Lord

by Bethany

Relevant Text: Prov. 15:8
Full Text: Prov 14-16

The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

“The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked” | How does a good thing – like a sacrifice – become a detestable thing? When it comes from a wicked or corrupt heart. As Jesus warned the Pharisees, “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” [1]. He sees beyond actions and into hearts.

“But the prayer of the upright pleases Him” | Upright hearts that depend on Him, however, bring Him delight. Unlike the wicked, the upright tremble at His word and weep for their sin. They know that He loves meeting needs more than making demands and that He loves working for us more than seeing us work for Him [2]. Thus, Jesus told a parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” [3]. God delights in the prayers of the upright because they know they have no righteousness before Him. They humbly trust in God’s willingness and joy and power to show them the mercy that they need. These humble and contrite hearts make God smile and bring Him delight [4].

Prayer | Lord, We fear You because we know that we have no righteousness before You. We beat our chests and are beggars before You, longing for Your mercy. Yet, we know that You delight to hear our prayers and to meet our needs and work for us. Therefore, give us humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

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[1] Matt. 23:27-28 NIV 1984  |  [2] See, e.g., Is. 64:4; 8:17; 30:15, 16, 18; Ps. 33:20-22; 106:13; 2 Chron. 16:9; 1 Ptr 5:7; Mk 2:17; Rom. 4:4-5; Gal. 3:2-3  |  [3]  Lk. 18:10-14 NIV 1984  |  [4] Ps. 51:7

October 12, 2011

The Tongue Has the Power of Life and Death

by Bethany

Relevant: Prov. 10:11
Full Text: Prov. 10-13

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.

“The Mouth of the Righteous Is a Fountain of Life” | In literate societies, words carry great importance: “The tongue has the power of life and death” [1]. To be sure, words have the power of life for marriages, friendships, families, churches, revolutions, understandings, reputations and governments. We are married by the words “I do” and we enact laws with a “Yea.” Words can bring delight to marriages, strength to friendships and health to communities. They can give hope to the hopeless, understanding to the confused and joy to the dejected. Words set to music lift our hearts in praise and meet our sorrows in sadness. Every Christian, therefore, should want to be “a fountain of life” to others [2].

“But Violence Overwhelms the Mouth of the Wicked” | Yet, words can also bring death. They can kill marriages, friendships, families, churches, careers, hopes, reputations, and governments. A divorce-seeking spouse can hurt the other by saying, “I never loved you!” An angry parent can destroy their rebellious child by declaring, “Sometimes I wish you had never been born!” Lies, slander, libel, anger – all of these take the form of words and can destroy others. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” has never been true and never will be.

Prayer | Lord, You gave us mouths to bring life, not death. Yet, we confess that we have used our tongues to hurt others and exalt ourselves. Although the tongue is a small part of the body, we know that it makes great boasts and it corrupts the whole person [3]. Yet, we also know that only You can tame the tongue because only You can change the source of our speech – namely, our hearts. Therefore, Lord, we ask You to set a guard over out mouths and to keep watch over the doors of our lips! [4]. Fill our hearts with grace and let us be slow to speak, as we seek to encourage more than critique. Let us be people whose mouths are full of life and who give grace to those who hear. Amen.

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[1] Prob. 18:21 NIV 1984  |  [2] As the Lord tells us in His Word, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9 NIV 1984) and, “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death” (Prov. 13:14 NIV 1984. See also Prov. 14:27: “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death” NIV 1984.)  |
[3] See James 3:3-6  |  [4] Ps. 141:3
October 11, 2011

His Grace Is Stronger than Our Sin

by Bethany

Relevant Text: Prov. 6:32-33
Full Text: Prov. 6-9

Adultery | For Solomon, the destruction of adultery was real, not abstract. After all, his own parents – David and Bathsheba – only got married in order to cover up their adultery (after, of course, they conspired to manipulate and murder Bathsheba’s first husband) [1]. Then, the son born out of their adultery – i.e., Solomon’s older brother – died as a result of their sin [2]. In the years following, although God put away [3] David’s sin, the wounds in his family remained. Crippled by his own shame, David failed to manage his household, which led to the rape of one of his daughters and the death of two more of his sons [4]. Solomon had a front row seat at the damage caused by adultery in the royal family in the middle of Israel’s golden age and he reflected, “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away” [5].

Redemption | Yet, God chose Solomon – the son of a marriage that was the direct result of sin – to rule the kingdom and write down Scripture. God worked all things – even the destructive sin of adultery – for the good of those who loved Him and who were called according to His purpose [6]. Although the damage from David’s adultery was real and its disgrace was crippling, his adultery was not more powerful than God’s grace. It was not truer than God’s forgiveness. Not only was this good news for David, this is also good news for all of us who have fallen like David. If we’ve repented and trusted Christ, he has taken our destruction on himself and wiped away our shame. Therefore, although we rightfully mourn and regret the devastating effects of our own sin, we wait in anticipation of God’s work to bring good about from it. For His grace is stronger than our sin.

Prayer | Lord, Adultery is destructive because it breaks the horizontal covenant between husband and wife and the vertical covenant between spouses and You [7]. Therefore, just like all sin, it has real and awful effects. Yet, although we regret and mourn our sin, we know that Your grace is sufficient. Christ has borne our condemnation so that we can live freely. Although we have been great sinners, he is a great Savior. Therefore, give us hearts to repent and then rest in Your lovingkindness. Amen.

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[1] See 2 Sam. 11. | [2] See 2 Sam. 12. | [3] 2 Sam 12:13 ESV. | [4] 843 Acres, “The Hopelessness of a Broad Definition of ‘Sin.’” 23 Aug 2011. | [5] Prov. 6:32-33 NIV 1984 | [6] Rom. 8:28 | [7] In Tim Keller’s forthcoming book (release: Nov. 1, 2011), The Meaning of Marriage, he writes about how marriage is a mix between a horizontal (husband and wife) and a vertical covenant (husband/wife and God): “Why do we say that marriage is the most deeply covenantal relationship? It is because marriage has both strong horizontal and vertical aspects to it … To break faith with your spouse is to break faith with God at the same time. This is the reason that so many traditional Christian wedding services have both a set of questions as well as a set of vows. In the questions, each spouse is asked something like this: ‘Will you have this woman to be your wife? And will you make your promise to her in all love and honor, in all duty and service, in all faith and tenderness – to live with her, and cherish her, according to the ordinance of God, in the holy bond of marriage?’ Each spouse answers ‘I will’ or ‘I do’ – but notice they are not speaking to each other. They are looking forward and technically answering the minister, who asks them the questions. What they are really doing is making a vow to God before they turn and make vows to one another. They are ‘speaking vertically’ before they speak horizontally. They get to hear the other person stand up before God, their families, and all the authority structures of church and state and swear loyalty and faithfulness to the other. Now, building on this foundation, they take one another by the hand and say something like this: ‘I take you to be my lawful and wedded husband, and I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful wife. In plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.’ Imagine a house with an A-frame structure. The two sides of the home meet at the top and hold one another up. But underneath, the foundation holds up both of the sides. So the covenant with and before God strengthens the partners to make a covenant with each other. Marriage is therefore the deepest of human covenants” (p. 83-84).

October 7, 2011

Unless the Lord Builds the House

by Bethany

Relevant Text: Ps. 127:1
Full Text: 1 Kings 4 + Ps. 72 + Ps. 127

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
Psalm 127:1

Solomon | The man who wrote this psalm – Solomon – was perhaps the greatest builder that Israel had ever known. Not only did he build the Temple of the Lord, he also built a magnificent royal palace for himself. At the end of his life, however, Solomon reflected on all his work: “I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees … I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a haremas well – the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor” [1].

Meaningless | Although his surroundings were breathtaking, his life was anything but beautiful. His heart was a mess. He loved the charms of the world – lusted after foreign women who worshiped other gods and spent twice as much time on the construction and adornment of his palace as he did on the Temple. At the end of his life, surrounded by his wives and wealth, Solomon was a spiritual pauper: “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” [2]. At his death, his great kingdom was torn apart by civil war and eventually conquered by other nations.

Prayer | Lord, We confess that our priorities can sometimes be topsy-turvy. We spend years making sure that our homes and our images and our portfolios are well built, but we often don’t strategize about our godliness and our holiness and our growth in the fruit of the Spirit. May it never be said of us, though, that our labor has been in vain. We ask that You build our work so that our labor is not meaningless. Amen.

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[1] Ecc. 2:4-11 NIV 1984  |  [2] Ecc. 2:4-11 NIV 1984

October 6, 2011

How to Seek the Wisdom of God

by Bethany
Relevant Text: 1 Kings 3:9
 
Decisions | Most decisions require wisdom. When two choices seem equally good, how do we choose just one? Robert Frost suggested that it’s a matter of perspective: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both … I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” [1]. Likewise, recognizing his own limited perspective in decision-making, Solomon’s sole request – when God offered to give him anything he wanted – was for wisdom: “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” [2].
 
Discernment | In one of his first judicial acts, Solomon displayed a wisdom that was characterized by sensitivity, maturity and discernment. When two women came to him – both claiming to be the mother of the same baby, Solomon ruled, “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other” [3]. Of course, the illegitimate mother clung to his ruling, but the legitimate one spoke up and offered to surrender her claim so the baby could live. In wisdom, Solomon solicited an act that demonstrated the truth. He discovered how to apply the fear of the Lord to the circumstances at hand.
Cross | Yet, there would come “one greater than Solomon” [4]. Jesus didn’t merely have wisdom; he was wisdom. By dying on the cross and then rising to newness of life, Jesus shows that God’s wisdom trumps man’s: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom” [5]. His wisdom used what seemed like the greatest defeat of all time – the crucifixion of the Son of God – and made it into the greatest victory of all time – the salvation of the souls of His people. Thus, in Christ, we embrace true and ultimate wisdom.
Prayer | Lord, Your word tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” [6]. Therefore, Lord, since we know that Jesus and the cross are wisdom, we ask for more of Jesus and more of the cross in our lives. We ask for more wisdom to know how to apply the truth to the circumstances of our lives. And we ask for more grace when we inevitably make mistakes as we stumble upon this road less taken. Amen.
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Footnotes:
[1] Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken, 1920  |  [2] 1 Kings 3:9 NIV 1984  |  [3] 1 Kings 3:24-25 NIV 1984  |  [4] Matt. 12:42 NIV 1984  |  [5] 1 Cor. 1:25 NIV 1984  |  [6] Jms 1:5 NIV 1984
October 5, 2011

The Parting Words of Two Great Men

by Bethany

Relevant Text: 1 Kings 2:2-4
Full Text: 1 Chron 29:21-30 + 1 Kings 1:1-2:12

David | When David was dying, he wasn’t thinking about his successes or failures or about how great his name had become. Instead, he was thinking about God’s glory and the delight of living in Him. Therefore, his final words to Solomon were about being faithful to God: “I am about to go the way of all the earth … So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the LORD may keep his promise to me” [1]. Thus, David reigned forty years in Israel and then he died.

Paul | Likewise, when Paul was leaving Ephesus, his parting words reminded them to pursue God: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again” [2]. Thus, Paul bid farewell and, according to tradition, was later beheaded in Rome.

Testimony | As both these men faced death, they were thinking about God’s beauty and grace, not their material goods or temporal successes. They treasured Christ in death because they treasured him in life. As David once sang, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” [3]. And as Paul was declared, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” [4].

Prayer | Lord, No matter what this life holds, the life to come – when our faith becomes sight – is far better! Yet, if we don’t treasure you now, what makes us think that we’ll treasure you when we’re dying? Forgive us for being too easily pleased with fleeting things and root us in Your everlasting glory and grace. Amen.

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[1] 1 Kings 2:2-4 NIV 1984 | [2] Acts 2:22-25 NIV 1984 | [3] Ps. 16:11 NIV 1984 | [4] Phil. 1:21 NIV 1984

October 4, 2011

From Zion, Perfect in Beauty, God Shines Forth

by Bethany

Relevant Text: Ps. 50:2
Full Text: Ps 50 + Ps 73 + Ps 82

Beauty | No matter what your passport says, you are a citizen of heaven if you are in Christ. This is a present reality: “Our citizenship is in heaven” [1]. Yet, it’s hard to get excited about being a citizen of a place you’ve never visited or seen. You can’t pick up a Frommer’s or talk with a friend who recently vacationed there. In the Bible, however, the Lord tells us a lot about what heaven is like. Throughout the Word – not just in Revelation – heaven is described as a place of joy, peace, healing and love. In the Old Testament, heaven is pictured as Zion and it’s clear that there’s no better place to claim as home – after all, God dwells in Zion [2], loves Zion [3], saves Zion [4], has “compassion on Zion” [5], and declares His name in Zion [6]. And the best part of the city is that it proclaims His beauty: “From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth” [7].

Background | Jerusalem was first called Zion after David conquered it [8]. Then, when he brought the Ark to Jerusalem, the city gained significance [9] because it represented God’s presence being with God’s people in God’s city. Then, when Solomon moved the Ark into the Temple, Jerusalem itself came to be known as Zion [10]. In time, however, it became clear that Zion was not as ideal as the prophets thought because sin became widespread: “Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?” [11].

Birth | Thus, there had to be a future, perfect Zion [12] – a heavenly Jerusalem that would be the home to all God’s people – regardless of nationality: “You have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God … to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant” [13]. Thus, no matter what your passport says, if you’re in Christ, God has changed your birth certificate to read: “This one was born in Zion” [14].

Prayer | Lord, Jesus calls us home to Zion, saying, “Come!” [15]. Therefore, give us a sense of our present citizenship in heaven. Make this our most fundamental identity so that we may be strong and unmovable: “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever” [16]. Amen.

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[1] Phil. 3:20 NIV 1984, emphasis mine  |  [2] Ps. 76:2 NIV 1984. See also Ps. 74:2.  |  [3] Ps. 87:2 NIV 1984  |  [4] Ps. 69:35 NIV 1984. See also Ps. 9:14; 14:17  |  [5] Ps. 102:13 NIV 1984  |  [6] Ps. 102:21 NIV 1984  |  [7] Ps. 50:2 NIV 1984  |  [8] 2 Sam. 5:7 NIV 1984  |  [9] 2 Sam. 6:12 NIV 1984  |  [10] 1 Kings 8:1 NIV 1984  |  [11] Lam. 2:5 NIV 1984  |  [12] See Acts 7:48ff; Is. 24:23; Micah 4:6  |  [13] Heb. 12:22-24 NIV 1984  |  [14] Ps. 87:6 NIV 1984  |  [15] Rev. 22:17 NIV  |  [16] Ps. 125:1 NIV 1984

October 3, 2011

How to Approach the Morality of God

by Bethany

Relevant Text: Ps. 78:5-6
Full Text: Ps. 75 + Ps. 76 + Ps. 78 + Ps. 81

Individualized | David Brooks recently said that the results of a study looking at the moral lives of 230 young adults was “depressing” [1] As he noted, when the subjects were asked about right and wrong, moral dilemmas and the meaning of life, “the default position, which most of them came back to again and again, is that moral choices are just a matter of individual taste. ‘It’s personal,’ the respondents typically said. ‘It’s up to the individual. Who am I to say?’” As a result, the research found “an atmosphere of extreme moral individualism – of relativism and nonjudgmentalism.” Yet, Brooks reflected, “Again, this doesn’t mean that America’s young people are immoral. Far from it. But … they have not been given the resources — by schools, institutions and families — to cultivate their moral intuitions, to think more broadly about moral obligations, to check behaviors that may be degrading. In this way, the study says more about adult America than youthful America.”

Shared | Yet, morality hasn’t always been “something that emerges from the privacy of your own heart.” In Israel, morality was revealed, inherited and shared: “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children not yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children” [2]. His purpose in giving the Law, however, was not merely to give moral instruction. Rather, it was to reveal Himself to His people so that “they would put their trust in God” [3]. Thus, God did not begin the Ten Commandments with a statute, but rather with a testimony of His grace and power that was exercised for His people: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” [4]. Through the Law, God wanted to call His people to know Him and, thereby, to live according to His love and grace and humility and power.

Prayer | Lord, Although we love Your law because it reveals something about You and the life You’re calling us to live as Your children, we also love Your Son who met the demands of the law for us. Give us a love for Your statutes – not because we think we can save ourselves by obeying them (for we can’t!), but rather because we know that they reveal something of Your heart. Amen.

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[1] David Brooks, “If it feels right …” New York Times. 12 Sept. 2011.  |  [2] Ps. 78:5-6 NIV 1984  |  [3] Ps. 73:7 NIV 1984  |  [4] Ex. 20:2 NIV 1984

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