December 22, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Luke 1:68-75
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us
that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
In Luke’s Christmas story, Zechariah celebrates the birth of his son by extolling God’s work of salvation. But salvation isn’t an end in and of itself. Rather, God saves people in order that they might serve God in holiness and righteousness. We respond to God’s gracious salvation by serving God, not just in our religious activities, but in every part of life, including our daily work. We have been saved to serve.
This devotion is part of the series: Work in Light of Christmas.
In the opening section of Luke 1, Zechariah receives a visit from an angel, who informs the priest that his elderly wife, Elizabeth, will bear a child. When Zechariah doubts the angel’s good news, his power of speech is taken away until the time when his child is born.
This birth happens in the final section of Luke 1. There we see that Zechariah’s ability to speak is restored. The first thing he does with his voice after months of silence is to praise God (Luke 1:64). A portion of his celebration is found in Luke 1:68-79, a passage that we often call the Benedictus (which is the first word of the Latin version of verse 68, meaning “blessed”).
In this hymn of praise to God, Zechariah proclaims that God “has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:69). Through this savior, the people of Israel would be “saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.” For Zechariah, these enemies and haters were the armies and leaders of the Roman empire.
Notice what follows from this act of salvation. Zechariah says that when God rescues us from our enemies, it will enable us to “serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness” (Luke 1:74-75). God’s people are saved so that they might respond by serving God. How does this service happen? To be sure, in Zechariah’s day it included the offerings presented in the temple and the other actions of the priests. But the Old Testament concept of serving God also embraces our daily work. In fact, the Hebrew word for “service” (avodah) can mean “work or “worship.” Those whom God saves will serve God, not just in their religious activities, but also in every part of life.
Those of us who have been saved by God’s grace through Christ have a similar experience and calling. We have been saved to serve the Lord in a variety of ways, including our daily work. In Ephesians 2:8-10, for example, we learn that we have been saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8) and that when we are saved we are also recreated in Christ for good works (Eph 2:10). When we do our ordinary work “in holiness and righteousness” (Luke 1:74), then we are living out our salvation by serving God and contributing to God’s work in the world.
As you reflect on Luke 1:68-75, consider the following questions:
When you envision serving God, what images come to mind?
In what ways do you serve God? How do you serve God in your daily work? (Remember, our work may or may not be for pay.)
What might it mean for you to do your daily work “in holiness and righteousness”?
How might you live out your salvation more completely through serving God in your work?
As you do your work today – whether paid, unpaid, or both – be intentional about offering your work to God in response to God’s grace in your life.
Gracious God, we join Zechariah in praising you for your salvation. Thank you, most of all, for saving us from sin and death through Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate very soon.
As we receive your gift of salvation, may we receive it with joy and gratitude. And may we offer ourselves as your servants, not just when we do “religious” things, but in every part of life. Help us, Lord, to serve you intentionally and joyfully through our daily work. Amen.
Banner image by Bimo Luki on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Advent Reflection: God’s Tender Mercy.
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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.