November 11, 2016 • Life for Leaders
I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
Every time I read Psalm 50, I am startled. In this psalm, God recognizes that the Israelites are properly offering the sacrifices God himself had required in the law. Yet he says that he doesn’t need these sacrifices. What God wants most of all from his people is not proper religious activity, but faithfulness in worship and true obedience, with gratitude.
Let’s face it. It’s easier to put on a good show of religiosity than to live a life of genuine gratitude and faithfulness to God. Though we Christians aren’t offering literal sacrifices, we often focus on doing all the “right things” that show others what fine Christians we are. Yet, in private, our lives can be far from God’s intentions for us. We can look great on Sunday morning. But how do we look on Monday evening when nobody’s watching . . . nobody except the Lord, of course. And perhaps our colleagues at work, for whom we are a living demonstration of discipleship.
Nothing in Psalm 50 suggests that we should stop gathering with God’s people for worship or singing the songs or praying the prayers. But it does challenge us to take a good look at our whole lives. Are we living each day for God and his purposes? Are we honoring him when we’re alone? In our daydreams? In our finances? In our daily work? What really matters to God is not that we excel in religious activity, but that we offer our whole selves to him in every moment. As Jesus made clear, our highest calling is to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves . . . every moment of every day.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Are you ever tempted to put on a religious “show” for the sake of others? When?
Are you living your life with a consistent awareness of what matters most to God?
Through your work, do you seek to worship God?
Gracious God, when I read Psalm 50, it’s as if I heard you say “Gotcha!” You know how hard I work to look good to others. I can put on a show of my religion. But what about my hidden thoughts? What about my daily living? What about my work? Do I offer myself to you fully, consistently? You know the answer to this question.
Forgive me, Lord, for all the times I live as if you weren’t there or as if you didn’t matter. Forgive me for my shallowness and hypocrisy. Help me, by your Spirit, to live for you completely, giving you all that I am every moment. What matters most to you is all of me: heart, soul, mind, and strength. May I offer my whole self to you this day and every day ahead.
To you be all the glory! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Anxiety when unscrupulous people succeed (Psalms 49, 50, 52, 62)
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.