May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17)
This is the final verse of Psalm 90, the only Psalm that credits Moses as its author. It’s not surprising that Moses concludes his Psalm with these words, as he prayed a similar prayer six times in the book of Deuteronomy alone (see Deuteronomy 2:7; 14:29; 16:15; 24:19; 28:12; 30:9).
Why was this such a frequent prayer of Moses?
First, I think Moses understood that this prayer is a practical way of reminding ourselves that God alone produces results through our work. In Deuteronomy 8:18, Moses said that “it is [God] who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” How do we remind ourselves of that truth? By joining Moses in praying the words of today’s passage.
Second, I think Moses continually offered up this prayer because it is deep within the heart of any human being for our work to outlive us. That’s what...
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
I’ve noticed a strikingly consistent theme in the biographies of history’s most impactful Christians: They thought about death—a lot.
At the age of 29, Martin Luther told a mentor “he didn’t think he would live very long.” William Wilberforce “seriously believed he was likely to die violently” before he completed his life’s work of abolishing the slave trade. And Alexander Hamilton “imagine[d] death so much it [felt] more like a memory.”
These men lived and worked hundreds of years ago when death was far more common and thinking about it was in some ways inevitable. That stands in stark contrast to our culture today. In an essay titled The Pornography of Death, anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer argued that death has replaced sex as the most taboo topic of our modern age.
But in Psalm 90, Moses says that meditating on death is one of the...
In you, Lord my God, I put my trust…Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:1, 5)
Can you repeat David’s words with a straight face? “God…my hope is in you all day long.”
I know I can’t most days. That might be true in the mornings after I have spent time in the Word meditating on the hope of the gospel. But once I sit down at my desk, it often feels like my hope is in signing the next book deal, hitting the next milestone in podcast subscribers, or helping my kids get straight As at school.
These are examples of good things that you and I should be ambitious for. Done with proper motives, they are part of the “good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” (see Ephesians 2:10).
But our good work can’t be the source of our hope. Why? Because the results of our work aren’t secure! I have no ultimate control over my next book deal or whether...
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)
Growing up, we had a tree in my yard that would produce delicious tangerines each year. Do you know what I never saw that tree do? Hoard the fruit for itself. Why? Because that’s not the purpose of a fruit tree. A fruit tree exists to share its fruit with others.
I think that’s part of what the Psalmist had in mind in today’s passage. The Psalter opens by describing “one...whose delight is in the law of the Lord” and says that whatever that person does “prospers.” Who is that prosperity for? Primarily for others—just like “a tree planted by streams...
Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. (Matthew 25:14)
When it comes to escaping the comparison trap, there may be no more helpful passage of Scripture than the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25.
Jesus’s parable focuses on a Master (representing himself) who “entrusted his wealth” to three servants. “To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,” and then, he went on a long journey.
Upon his return, the Master found that the first servant had diligently put the Master’s money to work and turned five bags of gold into ten. The Master turned to the first servant and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
Then, the Master came to the second servant who turned his two bags of gold into four. And the Master gave him the exact same blessing that he gave the first...
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. (2 Corinthians 10:12-13)
We’re in a series exploring four biblical ways to escape the comparison trap—our tendency to weigh ourselves against others until we feel improperly superior or inferior to them.
We’ve already explored two ways to escape the comparison trap. First, confess your pride. Second, thank God for the goodness he has shown to you and to others.
Today’s passage shows us the third way to escape: Ask yourself if you’re even playing the same game as the person you’re comparing yourself to.
The context of today’s passage is that the Corinthians were comparing Paul to some...
Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. (Job 41:11)
On April 7, 2019, Craig Arttez Brewer walked into a Waffle House and started handing out $20 bills to strangers. For whatever reason, Brewer chose not to extend his generosity to all the restaurant’s patrons, only some.
One customer who did not receive one of Brewer’s generous gifts became furious and stormed out of the restaurant. A few minutes later, the customer returned with a gun, shooting and killing Brewer on the spot.
This tragic true story illustrates an important truth: God is the creator of the universe. He created us and every good thing in this world, and thus, he is free to do with our lives whatever he pleases. Just as the angry Waffle House customer had no right to Craig Brewer’s generosity, we have no right to God’s.
Because we sinned against our Creator, the only “claim” we have against him is the claim to eternal separation...
If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else. (Galatians 6:3-4)
Today is my 37th birthday. I don’t know about you, but for me, birthdays are the perfect trigger for falling into the comparison trap. Because birthdays offer us a “scorecard” of sorts—especially in a world that is obsessed with success at an early age.
If we’ve made more money than our peers or parents have by a certain age, we can feel proud and arrogant. Conversely, if we have failed to sell a company, reach the C-Suite, or achieve some other goal before someone else, we can feel jealous and bitter like we’re “falling behind” and “life is passing us by.”
How can you wage war against these feelings? How do I plan to escape the comparison trap today? By confessing and repenting of my pride....
I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:22-23)
Today concludes our five-week series exploring biblical principles for working in environments that are increasingly hostile to the ways of the Lord. Today’s passage contains the final principle I want us to explore:
Principle #5: Christians are called to become all things to all people for the sake of the gospel.
One of the reasons why God has you working “outside the camp” is because it is through the work of mere Christians—not primarily pastors and religious professionals—that God will save the lost in our "post-Christian" context. But to make disciples at work you, like Paul, must “become all things to all people”—doing everything you can (other than sin) to build relationships with non-believers.
This could look like having lunch with a different co-worker once a week to...
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. (Matthew 5:13)
Last week, we explored the biblical call to “live such good lives” amongst our non-Christian co-workers that they have nothing credible to say against us (see 1 Peter 2:11-12). And we saw that that includes our submission to all authorities—even bosses who are antagonistic towards Christianity (see 1 Peter 2:13-22).
But we are only obedient up to a point. In the rare instances in which an authority explicitly asks us to contradict the Lord’s commands—when they ask us to lie to a co-worker, embellish the truth to land a deal, or stop talking about Jesus—we are free and obligated to dissent. We choose to obey God, not man (see Acts 5:27-32), otherwise our “salt loses its saltiness” and “is no longer good for anything.” That...