Thursday, July 27, 2017

"The Joke's on Me!"

Laughing Jesus by Ralph KozakPsalm 15.1-5 “The Message”

Question: “God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list?”

Answer: “Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don't hurt your friend, don't blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. You'll never get blacklisted if you live like this.”

David describes the qualifications of a true believer in this wonderful Hebrew poem. Its content literally defines integrity. God tells the writer (and his readers for the past 3,000 years): You can top “the guest list” if “you keep your word when it costs you.”

Have you ever made a pledge you wish you hadn’t? Someone relied on your word and your promise became too expensive to keep. What do you do? “Keep your word” or make excuses…
“Oh, well.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“I didn’t realize what I was saying.”
“I was drunk.”
“Sorry things didn’t work out.”
“I said I was sorry!
“Can you drop it?”
“It’s not a big deal.”
“I forgot.”
Your character is at stake. You really have no choice if you want to preserve your integrity. Honor your word. It’s simple. Not easy, not cheap, but simple.

But wait. There’s more... As I drafted this very journal entry, I remembered I was supposed to be somewhere else. I was already quite late an appointment with a treasured client! In a panicky rush I called and apologized. My customer was super understanding. He gave ample grace and said he would wait for me.

I was haunted by my own high standards. While I was busy writing about keeping my word, my client patiently waiting for me to actually keep it. Ironic. 

I understand keeping my word is crucial to my witness as a Christian and, while I certainly do not wish to minimize the message of Psalm 15, there must be a deeper truth here. I did not keep my word because I truly forgot about an appointment. That rarely happens but it does happen. I was mortified. I literally hate making excuses, even honest ones.

Perhaps Jesus has a sense of humor. Sometimes I take myself too seriously. Forgetting an appointment reminded me of a secondary truth as important as keeping my word... nobody’s perfect, including (and especially) me. Jesus played a little joke on me to make this point. I needed grace and got it. I hope I remember that the next time somebody let’s me down by failing to keep their word to me.

The wonderful "Laughing Jesus" at the top of this post is by Ralph Kozak whose work may be viewed and purchased at


Delta said...

This is really good teaching! How we all fail. The difference is, we need to remember to be accountable to those who are affected. Thanks for the reminder!

Dave's Bible Blog said...

So true. Thanks for your comment, delta.