We are reading the Bible through together this year, using the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan published by the Navigators. You can download it free of charge from: https://www.navigators.org/resource/bible-reading-plans/
Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 14:1-21; Acts 20:1-12; Psalm 33, Exodus 27-29.
Psalm 33:1 (ESV): Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.
For those who are serious about following Christ, it is easy to slip into a legalistic mindset. To set up a list of dos and don’ts, culled from Scripture and/or personal convictions, and to rely on our performance for a sense of well-being. The first danger of course being that we subtly begin to lose a sense of need to rely wholly upon the righteousness of Christ for our right standing with God. We start to look to ourselves. Nevertheless we feel – rightly so – a compulsion to order our lives rightly before this God of goodness and grace who has saved us from our sins. And our text provides one means to help rescue us from performance anxiety, and yet still serve as a much needed help. What is it? It is found in that little word “befits.”
The more we grow in Christ, the question which ought to occupy our thoughts more in this regard is: am I living, deciding, thinking and acting in ways which befit – which are commensurate with who I am in Christ, and where He is taking me in His redemptive plan?
Is sexual immorality fitting for one redeemed by the blood of the Lamb? Drunkenness? Combativeness? Carelessness? Harshness? Unforgiveness? Bitterness? Indolence? Selfishness? Lack of compassion toward the suffering? Greediness? Fear? Neglect of God’s means of grace: His Word, prayer, public worship, fellowship with the saints? The list could go on and on. And again, the idea here isn’t about ticking off the boxes, it is about considering who we are in light of what He has done and made us.
And our text itself sounds one powerful note for us, especially in the culture in which we live and the endless platforms for social media: “Praise befits the upright.” Crankiness doesn’t. Constant complaint doesn’t. Mud-slinging doesn’t. Praise does. Hearts and minds more occupied with the goodness of God than the wrongness of the World. Oh that the world around us might mark us out as characterized by this – that we are a people perpetually conscious of the goodness, grace, mercy, lovingkindness, faithfulness and praise worthiness of our great God.
If you ever wanted to be aggressively counter-cultural, here’s your chance. Spend less time grousing at fallenness, since such complaining will not change a thing, and more concentrating on the praise that befits the upright. And it will change you.