Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 7 April 19:
Psalm 41:9 — “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”
Having just read in Mark 14 the story of the Last Supper and Jesus’ betrayal, the similarities with David’s betrayal described in Psalm 41 are not missed: “One of you will betray me – one who is eating with me… one who dips bread into the bowl with me… you will all fall away.” (Mark 14:18, 20, 27) However, David highlights a significant difference between his situation and that of Jesus: David was not innocent. Jesus displayed mercy and grace from a position of perfection and complete holiness. Jesus was the only soul who has ever walked on earth who could have demanded justice, yet he didn’t for our sake. Conversely, David, in his persecution, recognized that he could not stand simply on justice; he too relied upon forgiveness, mercy, and grace from God – “As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!” (Psalm 41:4)
Towards the end of Psalm 41 David says, “But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever.” (Psalm 41:12) What integrity could the sinner David be talking about? I believe it is the integrity of his honest repentance displayed in Psalm 41:4 – David truly acknowledged that he was a sinner who relied totally upon God’s grace for salvation, and David honestly, though not perfectly, sought to please God in love and obedience. David’s integrity was his faith in God’s promises, and his willingness to live by them –
– 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
– Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
– John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
While Jesus certainly had the right in His perfection to demand justice from others, we, total sinners relying totally on God’s grace, certainly do not have the right to demand justice for ourselves from others. Jesus points this out throughout his teachings. He taught us to pray to God, “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us (Luke 11:4);” and His famous parable about the “Unforgiving Servant” in Matthew 18 is a harsh warning to those who would receive God’s grace while refusing to give grace to others — “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:32-35)
To live in integrity is to acknowledge our total dependence on God’s grace and to treat others accordingly. The more we truly understand what God has done for us, the easier it is to treat others graciously.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 Apr 19: Today, trust in grace, rest in grace, walk in grace, display grace, proclaim grace and give grace that the world may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.