December 15, 2016 • Life for Leaders
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
In the Christmas narrative of Luke, Mary was visited by an angel who revealed that she would give birth to “the Son of the Most High” (1:32), even though she had not been sexually intimate with a man. Mary received this revelation by offering herself as “the Lord’s servant” (1:38). In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we reflected on how Mary’s response can inspire us. Today, we continue on in the story.
Shortly after Mary’s visit from the angel, she set off for the home of her relative Elizabeth, who was also expecting a baby of miraculous origin (though ordinary conception). When Mary greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s baby “leaped in her womb” and Elizabeth proclaimed that Mary was “blessed . . . among women” (1:42).
In response, Mary offered spoken praise to God, a personal psalm that we often refer to as the Magnificat (from the first word of this psalm in Latin, magnificat, which means “magnifies”). Mary began her praise by celebrating the blessing she had received from God. Then, she broadened her scope by noting how God had blessed so many others as well. Among these widespread blessings, God “performed mighty deeds with his arm,” “brought down rulers from their thrones,” and “filled the hungry with good things” (1:51-53). Though Mary didn’t say it exactly in this way, she celebrated God as a worker.
We may not be accustomed to thinking of God in this way. But, if we step back and reflect on the biblical narrative, we see God at work in a great variety of activities, beginning, of course, with the creation of heaven and earth. The fact that Jesus saw God as a worker is clear from his statement in John 5:17: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”
Mary’s praise of God invites us to see and to celebrate God as a worker. It encourages us to remember God’s works and reflect on them. We may begin, like Mary, by praising God for how he has blessed us personally. But we are inspired by Mary’s example to broaden our perspective and to celebrate the breadth of God’s works. God has indeed done amazing things. And, as Jesus reminds us, God is at work to this very day, around us, in us, and through us.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
If you were to celebrate God’s “mighty deeds” in your life, what would you say?
Do you think of God as a worker? Why or why not?
How is God at work around, in, and through you?
Gracious God, indeed you have performed mighty deeds throughout creation and throughout history. Thank you for your works. Thank you for being a worker.
I praise you, Lord, for how you have blessed me personally, for your mighty deeds in my life. In particular, this day I praise you for . . . [add your own praise here].
My soul glorifies you today, Lord. My spirit rejoices in you, my Savior. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: God at Work (Luke 1, 2 and 4)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.