There were numerous verses that stood out to me in our Psalms reading today, but the one that particularly challenged me was right at the beginning.
Psalm 33 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
God has given each of us gifts, talents, and abilities. We are not supposed to waste them. We are to hone them, practice them, pursue them. Not so that everyone can see how great we are, but so everyone can see how great He is.
My piano teacher shared this verse with me years ago. God has blessed me with a talent or gift for playing the piano. It comes naturally to me. But I still needed to put the work in to be able to play skillfully. When people make comments like "Oh, you're so lucky to be able to play piano like that", it irritates me because luck had nothing to do with it. Hours and hours of hard work had a lot more to do with it.
And that, precisely is the danger of being able to play skillfully - becoming proud of our accomplishments, of our skillful playing. Not just being proud of it - but taking all the credit for it. Yes, there were hours and hours of practicing involved. But God still gave me the gift, He gave me the desire, He gave me the determination, He gave me the fingers and feet that I use to hone the gift He gave me, and He deserves the glory, not me.
I always love this story in Acts. First, that Paul and Silas were praising God and singing while in chains and a jail cell that I'm sure was not exactly comfortable. Then that they acted with integrity, grace, and compassion when the earthquakes released their chains. And that the other prisoners didn't try to escape! The jailer and his household became believers. And Paul doesn't let the authorities off easily in their release after their wrongful arrest. Amazing story all around. God is clearly at work in every area of our lives.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 35-36; Acts 17:1-15