“Bless the Lord, O my Soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
In our consumerist culture, we often treat Sunday morning as a time of inactivity for our souls. Especially growing up as Presbyterian, I frequently downplay my role in preaching the Gospel to myself in favor of claiming the finished work of Christ as my get-out-of-work-free card. I do not echo the words of Philippians 2 in calling myself to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” because I don’t particularly enjoy fear or trembling. Mostly, I view my salvation as a marathon where I am working alone against the elements of this world and the attacks of Satan and I am not enjoying the running or the fight against my adversaries. Often times this results in giving up and forcing contentment out of the disappointment of my pitiful sinful condition. I enjoy frequent pity parties over my sin and have become accustomed to losing the battle over my soul. I played high school basketball and I was by far not the best player on my team, so I found contentment in my role on the bench, encouraging my teammates but never desiring to actually enter the game. Now there is something to be said for finding contentment in one’s position on a team, but my contentment was with a subpar effort, not in doing the absolute best I possibly could to be the best basketball player I could be. Similarly, I often find contentment in watching my heroes in the faith conquer the obstacles they face and I see myself as perfectly suited to sit on my comfortable bench out of the way of danger or attention and cheer them on with enthusiasm. I do not look ahead to my calling to get into the game and make an impact, and my muscles, both spiritually and physically, become atrophied as they find contentment in stasis.
Both Philippians 2 and Psalm 103 call us out of our stasis into an attitude of praise and admiration. We serve a Master who has gone before us into great victories and has used our forefathers as His infantry to accomplish these tasks. For we serve a God who “does not treat us as our sins deserve” but calls us to be a part of His plan for us. Philippians, before calling us to work out our salvation, calls us to remember Christ’s work and His victory over sin and death. In the same way, David reminds us that “the Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.” Notice the past completed tenses of the verbs “has established” and “rules” giving us the peace and confidence that His kingdom reigns. So instead of seeing the completed work of Christ as an excuse not to work out my salvation, we should take these passages to heart as pep talks before going into the battle of our daily lives. Much like the St. Crispin’s Day speech in Henry V, we should be deeply inspired by these passages as a call to arms to fight with and for our King. Instead of wishing that we had better gifts or reinforcements, we can take heart that “the Lord’s love is with those who fear him.” Think of the ways you have been inspired by older Christian brothers and sisters who have “stripped their sleeve and shown their scars” of their battles in the faith. Christ has called us to take up our cross and follow him, and they who shed their blood with him are his brothers and sisters. I know that many of us are exhausted and find difficulty in motivating ourselves to work out our salvation, but let today be an inspiration to you that Christ has conquered sin and death. Go read Philippians 2 and Psalm 103 afresh, watch the St. Crispin’s Day speech on youtube, and take heart dear brother and sister, because our God is a Mighty Fortress and we get to be a part of His plan.