Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 10 August 19:
Psalm 91:11, 12 — “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”
Satan quoted Psalm 91 when he sought to tempt Jesus in the desert – “Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (Matthew 4:5, 6) Jesus responded to Satan by quoting from Deuteronomy (the book most quoted by Jesus) — “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” His quote came from Deuteronomy 6:16, a verse which refers to Exodus 17 where the thirsty Israelites on the verge of stoning Moses asked, “Is the Lord among us or not?” For further context, Deuteronomy 6 is also the “Greatest Commandment” chapter which commands, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might…. It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.”
Satan accurately quoted from God’s word, but out of context and with evil intent. He wanted Jesus to fall into the common trap of approaching God and His word from a self-centered perspective, placing personal interest over the will of God, expecting God to prove Himself to us, placing God in the position of being man’s servant rather than the other way around, and transferring glory from God to man. Of course, Jesus would not fall into that trap, and in one simple quote, proclaims that God is LORD, “Him you shall serve.” We must be VERY careful not to approach God’s word in a self-centered way – “What will God do for me? How does this apply to my life and what I want?” — as opposed to “How do I apply this in my life for God’s glory and in accordance with His will.” With a self-centered perspective, we can quote from God’s word inappropriately, drift away from the true will of God, mistreat others and lead others astray.
Similarly, we must be careful not to wield God’s word while arrogantly placing ourselves in the seat of God (The Judge) towards others. This is what Job’s friends did. Job’s friends quoted great spiritual truths inappropriately, in a judgmental way – “You deserve worse.” What makes us judgmental is not when we reveal sin to others out of love but when we claim some sort of personal moral authority, as if we are not sinners wholly dependent upon God’s mercy and grace too, as if we were the Righteous One, the deliverer of the sentence. Placing ourselves in this position is an affront to God, a denial of the Gospel which renders us worse than the one we are confronting. Our mission is reconciliation not condemnation. True love speaks the truth only in love. If your goal isn’t honestly demonstrating the love of Christ to the one you are confronting, hoping only for their unity with Jesus, best to remain silent.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 August 19: As you study God’s word and seek to apply it in your life, make sure it is all about Him and not about you. When you share God’s word with others, make sure it is for their benefit and not in anyway for yours, a selfless confrontation and not a selfish, self-centered one.