Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 7 August 21:
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.” Jesus’ 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 quoted from God’s word verbatim but out of context and with evil intent. He wanted Jesus to fall into the common traps of approaching God and His word from a self-centered perspective, placing personal interest over the will of God, expecting God to prove Himself, 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 Satan’s trap, and in one simple quote, proclaims that God is LORD, “Him you shall serve.” We must be VERY careful not to approach God and His word in a self-centered way – “What will God do for me? How does what He is saying benefit me, my life and what I want?” — as opposed to “How do I obey God’s word with a heart of genuine love 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 God, His love and His will; 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” – true words, but neither loving nor helpful. What makes us judgmental is not when we reveal sin to others out of love but when we reveal sin to others without love. We are judgmental 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 a presumptuous affront to God, a denial of the Gospel, and when we ‘play god’ in this way, we render ourselves 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 to demonstrate 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) – 8 August 20: 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.