Daily Devotion for April 22, 2013
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
(This old Puritan prayer is difficult to follow at points, but worth the effort it takes. If you don't like it, feel free to complain.)
Prayer to Dedicate Oneself to Christ This Day
Almighty God, as I cross the threshold of this day I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to Your care. Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me. Incline my heart to Your ways. Mold me completely into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay.
May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound Your praise. Let those around see me living by Your Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, unconformed to lying vanities, transformed by a renewed mind, clothed in the entire armour of God, shining as a never-dimmed light, showing holiness in all my doings.
Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, and hands. May I travel swampy paths with a life pure from spot or stain. In every transaction let my affection be in heaven, and my love soar upwards in flames of fire, my gaze fixed on unseen things, my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its vanities. May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of my Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth.
Order this day all my communications according to Your wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good. Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable. May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one.
If my life should end today, let this be my best day. This I pray in the name of Christ, my Lord and Savior,
May God Almighty send me his light and truth, to keep this day and all the days of my life. And may His mighty hand protect me, and all my brothers and sisters who have joined me in prayer this day, blessing our homes and our lives.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 3:1-4 (NIV)
Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
Exodus 20:15 (Darby Translation)
The Eighth Commandment
Thou shalt not steal.
Notes on the Scripture
There is a strong tendency, in groups of profoundly dedicated Christians, towards communalism. In fact, some the most dedicated Christians — monks and nuns — take vows of poverty and live an absolutely communal life, not owning even the clothes on their back. But outside of monasteries, these communal experiments have been failures.
It would make sense that Christians, whose lives becomes so centered on the Spirit that mammon becomes a burden, would gravitate toward socialist existence; but what makes sense often conflicts with truth, and this seems to be an example. Large-scale socialist societies have almost universally been characterized by atheism, ranging from the rather lackadaisical scorn for religion in much of northern Europe to the aggressive persecution of Christianity in Marxist countries. Indeed, the increasingly socialist United States is experiencing a concomitant rise of outspoken anti-Christian sentiment.
The Bible does not condemn or even discourage socialism. Nor does it promote it. In fact, if one were to sum up the New Testament's attitude toward politics, it would be "stay out of it." The prohibitions against theft in the Old Testament definitely presuppose, without criticism, a society where individuals may own land and items worth stealing. This becomes more apparent as one reads along: we will see the laws regarding property and theft greatly fleshed out in Exodus 22:1-14.
Paul — and almost certainly, Christ Himself — worked to make money. But then, we have Christ telling us that it is easier for a "camel to pass through the eye of a needle" than for a rich man to go to heaven, and advising a rich man to give away all that he own. (Matthew 19:24)
So, what is the point of all of this? God understands human life and expects us to make and enjoy our living. There is no sin in it, and no sin in owning property. It is where we begin to love money that we fall from the path. "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation." (1 Timothy 6:2-11)
The Eighth Commandment — because it is so strongly emphasized — seems to imply that theft is an even faster road to spiritual ruin than wanting to get rich. This in no respect conflicts with the New Testament: Theft places ownership of goods ahead of our love for our neighbor and, thus, our love for Christ. It embroils a lot of people in controversy over earthly goods. So let us not covet the rich, or despise them, or judge them, or think it all right to steal from them. We must love all, rich and poor alike.