A Psalm for the Those Who Aspire to Lead

Psalm 101

1I will sing of your love and justice. I will praise you, LORD, with songs.

2I will be careful to live a blameless life—when will you come to my aid? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home.

3I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all crooked dealings; I will have nothing to do with them.

4I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil.

5I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride.

6I will keep a protective eye on the godly, so they may dwell with me in safety. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me.

7I will not allow deceivers to serve me, and liars will not be allowed to enter my presence.

8My daily task will be to ferret out criminals and free the city of the LORD from their grip.

(Psalm 101: 1-8, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

Billy Graham lived to be 100 years old and he was never a part of any kind of moral scandal. His son, Franklin Graham, explained here that Billy Graham lived by a principle that has come to be known by many as “The Billy Graham Rule” which, simply put, was a principle of never being alone with a woman other than his wife.

So Billy would never take a car ride alone with another woman or meet another woman for lunch, even if it was business or ministry related. He always met in a public place and required one of his assistants to be there with him.

If these “rules” sound extreme, it’s because they are. But they are effective as well. Billy knew that if he had a failure, and Lord knows that there are many godly men who have, it wouldn’t just be a stain on his own reputation, but it would affect the image of Jesus himself.

This Psalm reflects the spirit of a leader who is deeply committed to living a life of integrity and lifting up the name of the Lord.

The psalmist begins with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving before making a number of character-based commitments. Among them are:

    • a commitment to living a blameless life
    • a commitment to integrity
    • a refusal to look at anything vile and vulgar
    • a hatred for and rejection of all crooked dealings
    • a rejection of perverse ideas – avoiding evil at all costs
    • an intolerance for people who slander others
    • keeping a protective eye on the godly
    • only allowing those who are above reproach the opportunity to serve them
    • not allowing deceivers to be personal servants
    • avoiding those who are liars altogether
    • pursuing the daily task of ferreting out criminals
    • performing the daily task of seeking to free the city of the Lord (Jerusalem) from the grip of criminals

We live in a culture where temptations abound. The opportunity to slip up morally is more prevalent now than ever.

In addition, due to technological advances, scrutiny from those who might seek to capitalize on our mis-steps is also higher than ever.

In other words, there are more temptations than ever and more watchful eyes than ever. Therefore, the chances that our secret sins will eventually come to light are also greater than ever.

Leaders who want to live with integrity would do well to have a plan and to be intentional about placing safeguards within their lives to protect them from making the kinds of catastrophic mistakes that have drastic and long-term effects.

This Psalm is a great example of intentionality to a life of integrity, purpose and honor.

Reflection

What are some examples of Christians you know or know of who have experienced a moral failure?

What personal steps have you taken to live with integrity and honor? What kinds of principles or guidelines have you put in place in order to reduce the risk of a moral failure?

What are some situations or circumstances where you would be most likely to compromise?

Which of the items in the above list would be most challenging to you?

 

Photo by Hiroshi Kimura on Unsplash

The Prosperity Gospel in the Old Testament

1Then Bildad the Shuhite replied to Job:

2“How long will you go on like this? Your words are a blustering wind. 3Does God twist justice? Does the Almighty twist what is right? 4Your children obviously sinned against him, so their punishment was well deserved. 5But if you pray to God and seek the favor of the Almighty, 6if you are pure and live with complete integrity, he will rise up and restore your happy home. 7And though you started with little, you will end with much. (Job 8:1-7, NLT)


The book of Job is considered to be one of the earliest books of the entire Bible.

If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s essentially 40+ chapters of dialogue and discourse about the nature of God, particularly as it relates to His attribute of justice.

In the first two chapters we find Job, a righteous man, experience extreme, unspeakable hardships and tragedy as the Lord allows Satan to test Job’s faith and his character. Satan’s assertion is that the only reason Job is righteous is because he has everything he needs and wants. Satan contends that if pressured, Job would certainly curse God.

The whole premise of the book is interesting as it deals with the question of character and true devotion. Is a person considered righteous because of what he has (and does), or is he righteous because of who he is?

So God allows Job to experience hardship and tragedy. The rest of the book is a series of discourses  as Job repeatedly expresses his pain and anguish while his friends take turns lecturing him on why he should repent of the hidden sin that must’ve been the cause of his calamity.

In chapter 8, Bildad the Shuhite weighs in with his take on Job’s situation. What’s interesting about Job’s friends is that their understanding of God and His character, particularly His attribute of justice, is wrong in different ways. Interestingly, their theological errors are still being promoted today in many modern day false gospels. Here Bildad espouses a view that clearly is the forerunner to what today is known as “prosperity theology”.

Prosperity theology basically teaches that if you follow the rules (do good), you will be blessed. If you don’t follow the rules, then calamity will ensue.

Bildad’s prosperity theology can be seen most clearly in verse 4, where he says that bad things are the result of sin, as well as verse 7, where he contends that seeking God’s favor results in “much”.

Bildad’s argument can be summed up as follows

1. God is just

2. God doesn’t punish just people

3. Job is obviously being punished. Therefore, Job must be unjust

Bildad understood that God is just but misunderstood how God’s justice is applied. Specifically, he thought God’s justice was always applied in the way outlined above.

In addition, Bildad assumes that anything bad that happens to a person is a result of God’s punishment, and the punishment is a result of sin. This is false.

The truth is that bad things often happen to good people but it doesn’t mean that they are being punished because of some secret sin.

Prosperity theology is popular with people because it gives a quick and easy formula to explain all the bad things that happen to us. But prosperity theology fails because God is not a formula. He’s an infinitely complex being whose ways are ultimately mysterious and beyond our comprehension. If you keep reading the rest of the book of Job, you’ll see how this becomes more clear throughout the book.

Reflection

In what ways have you tended to embrace Bildad’s prosperity theology as an accurate description of how God metes out justice?

If you were Bildad, how would you change what you say to Job to more closely match the true nature of God’s justice?

 

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels