March 28, 2015

Psalm 30:4-5 Sing to the Lord, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

The last part of verse 5 – joy in the morning – is justly famous, and has even become the title of a book, because practically everyone has experienced this at one time or another. Our bodies have natural rhythms, called circadian rhythms, of hormone production and everything else, that are tied to the natural day/night cycle around us. That’s why jet lag is such an issue, and why sleep disorders can be so serious. It is naturally easier for us to be optimistic in the morning, and “the shout of joy” (the original text here) comes more easily then. The Bible can give us remarkable insight into how we are made and the natural world around us, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s significant to note that this is addressed to “saints.” Natural rhythms occur for everyone, but it is those who are walking with God who receive the full benefits. However, we tend to make “saints” into a very special category: people like Billy Graham or Mother Theresa or the Biblical apostles. Such people do fit that term, but it is far less exclusive than that. In both the Old and the New Testament, “saint” is used for anyone who is committed to God as His possession. Paul used the term frequently in his letters, and reading them in context, it is clear he is talking about all believers. The Catholic practice of praying to deceased people has fed into our misunderstanding of what a saint is, and has made it far less likely that we would recognize that we ourselves fit the label. Actually, a saint is anyone whom God has declared holy, and that includes everyone who has repented of their sin and clung to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The problem is, we don’t always live like saints, even when we’ve made that commitment. We’re all works in progress! Reading about various famous Christians of the past, including those who are officially designated as Saints, reveals that they were as human as we are. They were not perfect, as Paul so famously confessed in Philippians 3:12-14. The point for every believer is what Paul said right after that: “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” (Philippians 3:16) We are not to put ourselves down for being imperfect, but we are not to use that as an excuse for even the sin of poor stewardship.

This is certainly the story of my life. At times I am painfully aware of my own imperfection, but at the same time I realize that God is more powerful than my weakness; if I submit to Him, the character of Christ is manifested in and through me. As a pastor, a major task for me is to help the believers realize that they are saints, however much or often they might trip up. We have a strong tendency to live up to, or down to, our own self-image, so this is vitally important. We can’t “live like saints” in our own strength, but this is exactly what Paul was talking about when He said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) I need to help the believers ask for, and expect, God’s strength to live as His saints, to draw many more into the family of God for their salvation.

Father, thank You for this reminder. So few of Your children see themselves accurately, as “saints under construction.” I ask for wisdom and anointing to help them see themselves as You do, so that they may reject the lies of the enemy and walk in all that You intend for them, as Your saints indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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