March 10, 2017 • Life for Leaders
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
Jack Benny was a beloved American entertainer. Though in real life he was an excellent violinist and a generous man, he often played comedic roles in which he was a terrible musician and an extreme penny-pincher. One of Benny’s most famous sketches involves an attempted robbery. A thief sticks a gun in Benny’s back, saying, “This is a stickup! Now come on. Your money or your life.” Benny fails to respond, saying or doing nothing for several seconds. The thief repeats his demand, “Look, bud, I said, ‘Your money or your life.’ ” Benny responds, “I’m thinking it over!” For Jack Benny’s miserly character, there was something better than life, namely money.
The author of Psalm 63 would agree with Benny that there is something better than life, but it wouldn’t be money. In verse 3, David prays, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” What is better than life? God’s love.
The Hebrew word translated here as “love” is chesed, a theologically-pregnant term that can also be translated as “kindness” or “mercy” or “steadfast love.” In the Old Testament, God’s chesed is closely associated with his covenant relationship with Israel. Chesed is love in the context of commitment. It is love that reflects God’s grace and perseverance.
Do you really believe God’s love is better than life? I do, in principle. But I must confess that sometimes I live as if life, even the temporal pleasures of life, is better than God’s love. I’m embarrassed to admit that if I have to choose between reading my favorite book or spending some quiet time with God, I might very well echo Jack Benny, “I’m thinking it over.” (Of course, rarely are we faced with an “either-or” like this. It’s usually possible to spend time with the Lord and time with your favorite book.)
If God’s love were better than life itself, then I would be well served to build into my life regular opportunities to experience and grow in God’s love. And so would you if you haven’t done so already. I need regular time with the Lord. I need times of retreat, so I can clear out my head and pay attention to God. I need deep relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ, who convey God’s love to me through their words and deeds. I need to be faithful in joining with others for worship, so I can remember the Gospel as it is sung, preached, and celebrated in communion. And I need rest from work, so I can be restored and remember God’s amazing faithfulness.
May God give us the grace to enjoy his love, the very best thing in life!
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When has God’s love been especially real to you?
In what ways do you structure your life so that you might experience God’s love on a regular basis?
Gracious God, all praise be to you because your love is better than life. Thank you for making your love known to me. Thank you for the faithfulness of your love. Thank you for loving me when I neglect you. Thank you for breaking through the hardness of my heart so that I might know your love more deeply.
All praise be to you, O God, because your love is better than life! Amen.
Image Credit: By MCA-Music Corporation of America (management agency) – eBayphoto, Public Domain, Link
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Fat and Fatness
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.
Although I am a devout Christian, I have to be honest that God’s love is something that I have struggled to fully embrace. God as my defender? Yes. God as my provider? Of course! But God’s unconditional love and acceptance is something that I have to intentional about embracing and truly accepting. (I recognize that this is my deficiency not his.)Thank-you for this timely article.