Churchese; July 28, 2019


Psalm 31:23-24 Love the Lord, all his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful,
but the proud he pays back in full.
Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.

David had experienced God’s grace and mercy many times, and he wanted others to experience them too. We tend to back off from claiming we’re saints, but the Bible is consistent throughout, in both Hebrew and Greek, in using that term with those who walk in faith. You might think that “saints” wouldn’t need to be exhorted to love God, but we are all equally human. David uses several terms here that have become standard to be point of almost losing their meaning as “churchese,” so it’s important to think about what they really mean. “Saints” is one of them, but there are several more. “Faithful” is another term we use without thinking, at times. The Japanese here makes it clear that this refers to those whose faith isn’t just words, but is lived out in fact. As James famously pointed out, using the right words without living them out is just deceiving ourselves. (James 1:22) Then we have “the proud.” We might have various definitions for the word, but what this is talking about is people who think they don’t need God. Throughout the Bible we are reminded that God is our Creator and our Sustainer, and as Jesus said, we can do nothing apart from Him. (John 15:5) Then David closes with those who “hope in the Lord.” I really like the Japanese expression, that I think must echo the Hebrew pretty closely, because of how English Bibles tend to waffle between “hope” and “wait.” That expression is very simply, “wait in hope.” When we really trust God, we realize that His timing is seldom ours, but His timing is always best. Peter expressed it in terms of a thousand years and a day. (2 Peter 3:8-9) That can be really hard to accept at times! When we have all these terms as concrete realities in our life, rather than just platitudes, we really enjoy the abundance that God has for us.

Naturally, this applies to me at least as much as it applies to anyone else. Growing up in the church, I had “churchese” down pat from an early age! Coupled with a significant knowledge of Bible facts, it made it easy to “play the Christian,” regardless of what was going on in my heart. The irony is that I was never more hypocritical than when I was accusing the Church of being full of hypocrites! By God’s grace He called me up short on that way back in 1972. I wish I could say that I’ve never fallen into it since, but it’s a continuing issue. That said, I agree totally with my maternal grandmother. When she was 91 and in a nursing home, we were gathered around her and singing Amazing Grace together. After we sang the 2nd verse, she said, “No, that’s not right.” We thought she was senile, and had forgotten the words. However, she was talking about the line that says, “How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.” She said, “When I first believed, I only knew a very little about God’s grace. The longer I live, the more wonderful and precious I know it to be.” I too am to live out my days in ever-increasing appreciation of God’s love and grace, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the privilege of speaking Your Word this morning. I pray that by Your Spirit it would penetrate all our hearts, cutting out all that is not pleasing to You and strengthening all that is in line with Your perfect will, 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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