The following is a part of our weekly devotional series, which is a companion to the 2013 Foursquare Life Journal. This week’s Bible reading comes from Judges 11-21; Ruth 1-4; 1 Sam. 1-2; Ps. 50, 53, 61, 64-66 and 89; and 2 Cor. 1-7.
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God” (Ps. 53:1-2, NKJV).
Psalm 53 is filled with a devotional mood that I do not generally enjoy. It is a psalm, not necessarily of faith and trust in the Lord, but one of hoping against all hope that God would come and bring salvation to Israel, in spite of all the bad people doing all the bad things they were doing.
“God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Every one of them has turned aside; they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one” (vv. 2-3).
In today’s culture, how far would we get making bold declarations about everyone else’s corrupt ways or abominable activities without first looking at ourselves? I think it would be easy to slip into that most hateful of all religious spirits—the one that is so easily identified by those who do not yet know the living Savior—self-righteousness.
“Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God? There they are in great fear where no fear was, for God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you; you have put them to shame, because God has despised them” (vv. 4-5).
Isn’t it ironic that those to whom we are commissioned to offer the Good News may be closer to hearing the pure voice of God than we are? Even in their unrighteousness, they can immediately see our faults, our self-righteousness. God is relentless in His pursuit of the unbeliever, but from the self-righteous believer He pulls inexorably away. It’s a sobering thought.
Paul helps us understand this better. Rom. 3:21-23 offers the language of deliverance to the self-righteous: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
The saints of God are those who understand their righteous standing before God did not come from their own good works. They allow the love of God to reveal their sinful nature to themselves and repent of it—and that repentance shows unbelievers their own sin as well—in a flood of God’s pure love, more than accusations ever could.
I believe that to the world we intend to reach, a posture of humility will help us seem less like hypocrites, and more like those inviting all to know the awesome Lord Jesus Christ we serve. By this we will make Him known. The psalmist David included himself in his observations of the depraved, as one of them. He prayed, in verse 6: “Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God brings back the captivity of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.”
That prayer has been answered. Our light has come! Let us engage in humility and love, allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to spill His salvation through us to all whom we serve. Maybe a little rejoicing and gladness about our salvation would be contagious?
By: Joe Wainer, assisting minister at The Church On The Way Santa Clarita (Santa Clarita Foursquare Church) in Santa Clarita, Calif.
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