August 27, 2015 • Life for Leaders
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”
In yesterday’s devotion, I reflected on how the very first thing Noah did after leaving the ark was to build an altar in order to offer sacrifices to God. He made worship a priority.
I believe this and I believe it’s important. But I also believe that how we talk about Noah’s worship of God can limit our understanding and practice of worship. Allow me to explain.
As I read several commentaries on Genesis 8, all of them pointed out that Noah worshiped God immediately after leaving the ark. They all noted the priority of worship in Noah’s life. But, not one of the commentaries I consulted pointed out that Noah’s act of obeying God by building and filling the ark was also, in a very real sense, an act of worship. More than once, Genesis points out that Noah did “all that the LORD had commanded him” (Gen 7:5). He did this in spite of how strange it must have seemed, not only to Noah, but also to those around him. Yet Noah worked extremely hard to obey God in spite of how silly it might have appeared.
Thus, even as we rightly recognize the priority of worship in Noah’s life, as demonstrated by his building an altar and offering sacrifices, we mustn’t forget that Noah also worshiped God through obedience and sheer hard work. He did what God told him to do and he worked very hard in faithfulness to God’s command.
Nothing I’m saying here minimizes the importance of actions that focus specifically on God. Though we don’t offer literal sacrifices anymore, we do present to God our praise, thanks, prayers, meditations, confessions, financial gifts, and liturgical actions. Worshiping God in these ways is essential, to be sure. Yet, Scripture urges us to present to God all that we are and all that we do (see, for example, Romans 12:1-2). Even as Noah glorified God through the hard work of building and filling the ark, so we can glorify God through the hard work of our daily labor.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you believe God is honored through your daily work? Why or why not?
If you were going to offer all you do today as worship, how might this affect what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and how you feel about it?
Gracious God, thank you for the example of Noah, who obeyed you even though it must have seemed odd, even embarrassing, to do so. Thank you for how Noah worshiped you through his hard work in response to your call.
Help me, Lord, to worship you similarly. Yes, may I take time to focus on you, to offer sacrifices of praise, thanks, and prayer. But may I also offer to you the sacrifices of my work, as I use my mind and body to serve you.
Be glorified, Lord, in all I do today. Amen.
Image Credit: James Jacques Joseph Tissot’s Building the Ark, courtesy of the Jewish Museum.
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.