by Mark D. Roberts
Laity Lodge Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence
God’s Perspective on Human Goodness
God looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.
But no, all have turned away;
all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
not a single one!
If you have a sense of déjà vu when reading Psalm 53, it’s because this psalm is virtually identical to Psalm 14. Those who collected the psalms must have believed that the message contained in these ancient poems was so important that it was worth repeating, almost verbatim.
Psalm 53 begins by criticizing fools who deny God’s relevance to their lives and therefore commit all measure of evil. From our perspective, it would be easy to begin to think of people we know who fit this mold, people other than ourselves, of course. But then we get to verses 2 and 3. Here, God looks down upon all people and sees all of us to be lacking in goodness. The divine conclusion: “No one does good, not a single one” (53:3). With hyperbolic rhetoric and poetic intensity, the psalmist underscores the truth that all of us, to one extent or another, share in the folly of those who reject God and do what’s wrong. Thus we mustn’t let the fact that some “fools” are more foolish than we are become an excuse for us to ignore our own failure to live according to God’s wisdom.
In Romans 3, the Apostle Paul quotes this passage from Psalm 53 (or 14, see Rom. 3:10-12). He concludes that all people have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (3:23). This bad news of human folly sets up the good news of the Gospel: “Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (3:24). Thus we must not boast of our right-standing with God, since it’s nothing that we have earned. Rather, we humbly and gratefully receive God’s grace and seek to share it with those who are still caught in their folly.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you ever look upon others in their folly as a way of building yourself up? How might Psalm 53 alter your perspective and practice?
PRAYER: O Lord, you know how easy it is for me to look upon the folly and evil of others in order to build myself up. I can think, “At least I’m better than them!” But this psalm reminds me of my own folly, even in thinking that somehow I am categorically better than others. Today I’m reminded of the fact that all have sinned, including me. Left to my own devices, there is no way I can cleanse myself of sin or be righteous in your sight.
Yet you have done what I cannot do. Through Christ, you have declared that I am righteous. You have drawn me into a right relationship with you, so that I might live in a new way, set free from folly. Help me, dear Lord, to live each day for you and by your power. Though I will continue to sin, may sin’s hold on my life diminish. May I flourish in goodness because of my relationship with you.
All praise be to you, gracious God, because, having seen the evil of humankind, you reach out in love to save us . . . including me! Amen.
Visit them online at http://www.TheHighCalling.org
I found in reading Mustang’s wonderful story about the natural bravery and selflessness of children, drove this devotional home for me. You can read the short Sunday Reflection here on Social Sense – Giving When It Counts.
I personally think that this should be “required reading” along with the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, for our House of Representatives and Senate. In my opinion, they have continually demonstrated that most of them do not possess a modicum of spinal fortitude or leadership skills.
Leadership at the Point of the Bayonet
Ten Principals for Success
1. Strive to be a leader of character, competence, and courage.
2. Lead from the front. Say, “Follow me!” and then lead the way.
3. Stay in top physical shape—physical stamina is the root of mental toughness.
4. Develop your team. If you know your people, are fair in setting realistic goals and expectations, and lead by example, you will develop teamwork.
5. Delegate responsibility to your subordinates and let them do their jobs. You can’t do a good job if you don’t have a chance to use your imagination and your creativity.
6. Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind.
7. Remain humble. Don’t worry about who recieves the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.
8. Take a moment of self-reflection. Look at yourself in the mirror every night and ask yourself if you did your best.
9. True satisfaction comes from getting the job done. The key to a successful leader is to earn respect—not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.
10. Hang Tough!—Never, ever, give up.
Major Dick Winters
Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
“Band of Brothers”
From: “Beyond Band of Brothers, The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters”
This post is in support of our troops going in harm’s way in Afghanistan right now. They are my heroes, and are on the top of my prayer list as they go forward to try to make a difference.
From the article:
Officials described the offensive — dubbed Khanjar or “Strike of the Sword” — as the largest and fastest-moving of the war’s new phase and the biggest Marine offensive since the one in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004. It involves nearly 4,000 newly arrived Marines plus 650 Afghan forces. British forces last week led similar, but smaller, missions to clear out insurgents in Helmand and neighboring Kandahar province.
“Where we go we will stay, and where we stay, we will hold, build and work toward transition of all security responsibilities to Afghan forces,” Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson said in a statement.
You can read the entire news article by clicking on the title link above.
U.S. Marines launch key operation in Afghanistan
By Peter Graff — Reuter’s UK reporter
SORKHDOZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Thousands of U.S. Marines stormed deep into Taliban territory in an Afghan valley on Thursday, marking the start of a major new effort by the Obama administration to regain the initiative in the war.
The Marines met little resistance on day one of Operation Khanjar, or Strike of the Sword, to seize almost all the lower Helmand River valley, heartland of the Taliban insurgency and the world’s biggest opium poppy producing region.
One U.S. Marine was killed and several others were wounded during the day, the Marines said in a statement, adding that they had not received any confirmed reports of civilian casualties or damage to property.
Other news from Afghanistan:
However the offensive was overshadowed by news of what the military said is the first capture of an American soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan in two to three years.
“A US soldier who has been missing since June 30 from his assigned unit is believed to have been captured by militant forces,” said US military spokeswoman Captain Elizabeth Mathias. “We are using all of our available resources to find him and provide for his safe return.”
A commander of the Taliban’s Haqqani faction, named Bahram, said his militia had captured the soldier in Paktika province, along with three Afghan guards.
He said the soldier had been taken to “a safe place” and demands would likely be made for his release.
“Our leaders have not decided on the fate of this soldier. They will decide on his fate and soon we will present video tapes of the coalition soldier and our demand to media,” he said.
The US military has described the al-Qa’ida-linked Haqqani network as one of the “most lethal Taliban organisations”.
The missing soldier was captured outside his base and was not part of the new US-led operation, in which about 4000 US marines and 650 Afghan troops mobilised yesterday with orders to clear the southern region of militants and restore government services.
The entire news article can be accessed by clicking on the title link above.
All who love America and our troops, please remember these brave men and women who are fighting, pray for the families of the fallen and wounded, and pray that the soldier being held captive, is safely released. We cannot love and support our military enough right now.