Isn’t it great when you open up to Scripture and it delivers? Doesn’t always happen like magic, that’s for sure, but this morning I opened up to this:
Open to me the gates of righteousness that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
photo by @Dann at Unsplash.com
Last night at Bible study we discussed how easily we get mixed up about what comes first – the chicken or the egg? Well, ok, it wasn’t those elements. But the elements of FAITH and WORKS and SALVATION. It’s so easy for us to slip into thinking that our works are what earn our salvation. Or judging other’s faith based on the works we can or cannot see from our vantage point over here. Or even that since works are NOT what saves us, we don’t have to worry about them at all!
In fact, this Psalm sums it up so nicely. Look at the order of events here. God, open FOR ME the gates of righteousness.
HE does it. He opens them up so I can walk thru them. Not much of my own doing in this scenario.
And then what? He opens the gates SO THAT I may enter through them AND GIVE THANKS.
God has prepared good works for me in advance so that I might walk in them. And in my response of thanks, I hope to do exactly that. I will fail. I will stumble and I will be selfish and botch it all up. But it’s ok. Because I am a saved child of the Father, who loves me and covers me with His grace. When I walk humbly with my God, confessing the reality of my sin, He is mercifully forgiving. Makes it a lot easier to go out and take the risks of loving my neighbor when I know I am a loved and forgiven child of God AND that He has prepared these things for me in advance. PLUS I have the Holy Spirit right there with me, pushing me, giving me the tools, and opening my eyes to what needs to be done.
When I’m living out this truth it doesn’t look so neat and tidy. The giving thanks part certainly isn’t as clean and slick as this verse suggests. But that’s fine. God says GO anyway, and love and serve and forgive. Do it in my holy name. I’ve opened the gates for you. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:23-24)