My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. I follow the readings and journaling from lifejournal.me. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
A handful of bribes
O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house And the place where Your glory dwells.
(Psalms 26:8 NASB)
Do not take my soul away along with sinners, Nor my life with men of bloodshed,
(Psalms 26:9 NASB)
In whose hands is a wicked scheme, And whose right hand is full of bribes.
(Psalms 26:10 NASB)
But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; Redeem me, and be gracious to me.
(Psalms 26:11 NASB)
My foot stands on a level place; In the congregations I shall bless the LORD.
(Psalms 26:12 NASB)
Living for many years in the former Soviet Union it seemed that we
lived day in and day out with people constantly wanting bribes. This
was not something that was done in secret, but rather, had become the
commonplace practice of society. Excusing the requests for bribes
people would say, "well, we need to eat too." However, the pervasive
undercurrent of a lack of morality continuously chipped away at the
society leaving a moral vacuum.
The Psalmist is writing about living in similar world. The immoral
practices of society have received tacet approval and the concern is
that one could simply be swept away with the crowd. The Psalmist cries
out for salvation, that their soul would not be swept away by the
immorality of the world. A world in which people are always scheming,
planning for ways to meet self-serving goals and willing to take
anything they want from the weak. Instead the Psalmist realizes it is
better to go and spend time in the Lord's house because that is where
the presence of the Lord dwells. If he stays firm in the house of the
Lord, the Lord, himself will give him the strength to stand up to the
corruption of the world and to walk in integrity. Not only will he be
able to stand, but his path will be made straight, he will not stumble
and he will regularly go to the house of the Lord where he will be able
to bless the Lord.
The reality is that the challenges of the day today are not all
that unfamiliar. Maybe in the US we are not accustomed to blatant
requests for bribery, but let's be honest, we do seem to face
self-centeredness on a regular basis. We expect to find it out in the
"world" but sometimes we are shocked when we find that those who call
themselves followers of Christ act in the same way.
Recently someone calling themselves a follower of Christ suggested
that they could show their dislike for what was happening in a local
church by with-holding their tithe. In reality is this bribery. They
are saying, either do it my way, or you don't get the money that you
need to run the church! This is not Biblical. Never should we stoop to
the worlds' tactics to make a point.
The Psalmist gives us very practical advice on how to avoid falling
in to the trap of responding in a worldly way and using the worlds
#1. Regularly attend the house of the Lord. It is in the house of
the Lord that the Psalmist experiences the glory of God. The glory of
God is his presence. It is by regularly visiting with God and sitting
in his holy presence that we may gain the strength to live a lifestyle
that is counter-cultural.
#2. Allow God to transform us. We are transformed and therefore our
behavior changes. The result is that our reactions become transformed
into the reactions of Jesus Christ. In this regard we can take the
"high road." We walk in integrity as people who will not stoop to the
deceitful practices of this world.
#3. Let the Lord take care of the work of redemption. We are
redeemed by the Lord, himself. I know there are times that we wish this
would happen sooner, rather than later. However, there are times when
it simply requires a protracted period of faithfulness to God and time
in the glory of his presence for God's redemptive work to be done. Hang
in there. God is eternal and time has a completely different meaning
to him. He has promised that he will redeem us! I think of Dietrich
Bonhoeffer who lived a life of integrity which led him to death in a
concentration camp. Where is the redemption in that? However, his
record has been cleared and his ministry continues into all of eternity.
He has been redeemed.
#4. Stand firmly on level ground. Once I continue to spend more and
more time in his holy presence, the temptations of this world no longer
become stumbling blocks. Those stones are removed from my path and the
desire and ability to walk in integrity is no longer hindered by the
things we confront in this world. My path becomes level and my feet are
steady in the faith. I am no longer drawn away to the reactions of
this world, or by self-centered desires.
#5. Let me repeat -- spend time in the house of the Lord. The
result is that I have no desire to hurt the congregations of the Lord,
but rather, my desire is to be in the house of the Lord, blessing the
Lord and his congregation.
Lord, thank you for the practical advice from your word. Please,
help me to walk in integrity and may I praise you in your house! Amen.