Bread – Politics

April 11, 2018


Psalm 101

I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.”  Ps. 101:2b-3a

When I began to write this, my eyes turned to the word “integrity” and I thought I would write about that, but instead I was drawn more to the words “my house.”

What is “my house?”  Is it merely the building I sleep in?  Is it the workplace where I make a living?  Is it my city, my county, my state, my nation?  What exactly is “my house?”

I guess the answer to that question depends upon how much I take personal responsibility for my actions.  If I am but a temporary boarder or renter, perhaps I feel like a victim and have “no house of mine.”  If I feel estranged from social and political life, perhaps I may feel that my living space is “my house” but nothing else is.

If you refuse to take personal responsibility for your life, then there is nothing in this Psalm which will appeal to you.  If every bad thing which happens to you is someone else’s fault – my landlord, my boss, my next door neighbor, my enemy, the corrupt politicians in Washington, my parents, my children, my co-workers, my priest, my spouse, or, ultimately, my … God – then holding yourself to a standard where you will not set before your eyes anything that is worthless is probably impossible (for you, not for God when you ask).

So this commentary today is written to those who take personal responsibility at some level and recognize that there is in fact a “my house.”

There is certainly a problem with integrity throughout each of our lives, where we live inconsistently minute by minute.  An example is in order.  If we say we honor God and live in integrity, can we seriously say that everything we do is intended to honor God?  If you answered “yes” to that question, then my next question is “Really?”

So integrity is a problem for us, but we know that.  What we are not so much aware of is that “my house” is a much bigger concept than we often think.

The reason I named this Bread “Politics” is to point out that, as Christians, the concept of “my house” includes our country and every subdivision where we live and work.  Once we swallow that concept, we may even then grow to recognize that the entire world is “my house.”  So the question of whether we walk in integrity in “my house” is really a question of whether, in the tumble and turmoil of everyday life, in the boardroom and the workroom and the legislature and the club and the association and the schools, and everywhere else we touch, do we walk with “integrity of heart?”

So, as we finish this week, month, and year, I think we each need to ask ourselves the following questions:  (1) Do I take personal responsibility for “my house?”; (2) Do I have a view of “my house” which includes my neighborhood, my workplace, my government (city, county, state, nation)?; and (3) Do I walk with “integrity of heart” in “my house?”

The truth is that all of us will answer one or all of the questions in the negative, at least sometimes.  So what do we do?  — We pray:  “Come Holy Spirit and (a) teach me that, under God, I am the steward, the caretaker, of what God has given me, which makes me in charge, subject to Him, (b) expand my horizons to see that I am Your representatives at home, at work, and at places near and far, and (c) empower me to walk in integrity of heart, helping to avoid anything that is worthless according to Your Word.”

And when we do, be prepared for the storm because Satan does not like us to be light in darkness.  But that’s OK, because we have won.

_______

© 2018 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

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Bread – Sin

February 6, 2017


Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!”  Ps. 51:1-2

The context of this Psalm is that it is written by David after his adultery with Bathsheba, his murder of her husband, and his confrontation by Nathan the prophet.   His evil thoughts and acts revealed, David writes this Psalm, beginning with his plea to God for mercy.

The sins of adultery and murder in the Old Testament were what we might call today “mortal” sins.  The judgment for these sins was death.  Just so that we didn’t miss it, David doubled down on death by committing both sins together.  But for God’s mercy, David was doomed even though he was a king.  But for God’s mercy, David’s penalty imposed by Mosaic law for his actions was death.

 

What is sin?  In these two verses, we have three words for it – transgressions, iniquity, and sin.  We often talk about “sin” as missing the mark, as an arrow misses the bullseye.  And, indeed, sin can be described as our failure to obey God’s laws and regulations for good, righteous living.    We know we cannot meet God’s standards because they are so high and we are so weak, but using this concept of “sin” alone we are left with the idea that we are basically good people who, with a little bit of training and grace, can hit the bullseye.  Much of modern thinking is built upon this narrow and weak view of sin.

But this meaning, that of “missing the mark,” is not the meaning of either “transgressions” or “iniquity.”  When we transgress against someone, we cross the line and become enemies of that person.  The idea is that we transgress when we rebel against the law.  It is not enough that we “miss the mark” by trying, but in our transgressions we don’t even try.  God’s law apply to me?  You’ve got to be kidding!  That is rebellion; that is transgression.  In “sinning” we break the law essentially because of inability or by accident; in transgressing, we break the law on purpose because we are enemies of God.  In transgressing, we exalt ourselves to either ruling over God (we judge Him) or considering ourselves equal to God (we negotiate with Him).

In the word “iniquity,” we look at sin as a state of natural man, as a perversion of God’s plan.  Some might call “iniquity” as our original sin, born of disobedience in Adam and Eve.

So, “sin” in the complete way of thinking is (a) our state (born in iniquity), (b) our position vis a vis God (His enemy), and (c)  our actions or inactions when measured against perfection.

David sees clearly after his confrontation with Nathan that what he has done arises from iniquity, marks his position as an enemy of God, and falls seriously short of God’s moral law.

So David approaches God out of the box, in verse 1, relying solely on God’s mercy.  He is not good enough to merit God’s forgiveness.  He has not done enough good things to merit God’s forgiveness.  He cannot tell God what to do and he cannot negotiate with God as His equal.  He has one choice and one choice only, and that is to fall on his knees in front of God, confessing his sin, his transgressions, and his iniquity,  and plead for mercy.

From great degradation can come great deliverance.  From great depravity can come great transformation.  From great sorrow can come great healing.

And from a great God will come great mercy because of His “steadfast love.”

And for that, we confess our sin and are grateful.

_________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

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