Psalm 14: Wisdom’s Precious Practices
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.
2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.
4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the LORD?
5 There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would shame the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is his refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
One of the privileges I have in my work for the Texas District of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod is assisting and advising congregations that are seeking a new pastor. This is a significantly-positive process. The people of the church are excited and eager to find a new pastor. The reports they generate and data gathering they do focus them toward their mission and help them think of how effectively or intentionally they are pursuing God’s purposes. The reports and guidance I provide remind them of God’s desire for the lost to be found, and disciples to be made.
Part of that search involves looking for particular gifts and skills of the various pastors they consider. There are the usual and expected qualifications: faithful to Scripture and our Lutheran Confessions, ability to teach, preach, and administer the affairs of the church. They also often want someone to reach the youth of the congregation and community. And often they will express a desire for their pastor to have an impact and involvement in the community.
I like to offer an encouragement to look at the 5 C’s that are important to effective pastoral leadership: Character, Calling, Capacity, Chemistry, and Competency. I love to point out that someone who is very gifted and has both great capacity and competency can be extraordinarily destructive to the church and the gospel witness if he does not have strong moral character.
Looking at this psalm, I am reminded of God’s desire for all his people. These things don’t just apply to leaders, but to all of us. He is looking for people who do good. He desires we be righteous–just in our dealings with one another. He values people who seek him. He cares if we care for the poor. He delights when we call upon him in prayer.
Those who live in this manner have no terror of his retribution. And even when we realize we have transgressed against these character markers, we who repent of our sin and return to his ways have no fear of his judgment. For our God is a gracious God. He has delivered us from judgment and condemnation. Salvation has come out of Zion. Jesus has come and saved us. For his sake we live out wisdom’s precious practices.
I received disturbing Text messages from an old Navy friend last week and again this week which expressed his anger at Christians and others who profess to be good people yet do evil things. He went on to state that he believed the bible was an interesting collection of fictional tales. He concluded with the statement that he did not pray to any God.
This morning I got a daily email from a you that started with Psalm 14.
I do not believe that it was coincidence that this is what you sent out today.
Thanks for your timely much needed email,