Links Daily Devotional

A Secret Life?

I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. (Psalm 142:2, NIV)

Much of golf is played under our breath.

Good research shows that it was likely Eddie Loos, in 1924, who originated the idea that golf occurs in that small space known as one’s head. Loos said he arrived at this conclusion by measuring his own noggin from front to back, and thereby he suggested that the game was played on an eight-inch course.

Three years later Bobby Jones, whose fame far exceeded that of Loos, popularized the same idea by suggesting that the game is played in the five-and-a-half inches between one’s ears.

All this may be true, by one measure or another, but I’m thinking today of the two inches between voicebox and lips, where so much of that mental play is held captive in a cross between guarding one’s sportsmanship and masking one’s embarrassment. We no more want others to hear us cheering ourselves on than we want them to hear us chewing ourselves out!

Intriguingly, the Christian life is meant as well to have a secret aspect to it.

In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, he spoke of doing our righteous acts so secretly that our left hand does not know what our right hand is doing. This is a figurative picture, of course, but a meaningful one that must be extended to its conclusion: “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:4). So adamant was Jesus about this idea that he taught that those who instead made a public performance of their righteousness had “received their reward in full.”

But if the attractive side of Christian living is to be done in secret, so too is the unattractive side. Consider today’s verse. If you know Paul’s directive to the Philippians—“Do everything without complaining…” (Philippians 2:14)—you might be startled to read David’s words at all. Not only was he complaining, he was pouring out complaints. And not only was he liberal in his complaints, he was complaining to God.

David’s psalms and prayers, though, always advanced the context for our living—that is, living is to be done, in all its expressions, within the vision and earshot of God: “Before him (implication: not before others) I tell my trouble.” God is OK with hearing our complaints; he is not OK with our complaining to others, as though we do not trust or have grown impatient with him. Are you really bothered by something? By all means, go to God with your problem. If you’re complaining for no good reason, he’ll let you know.

A secret righteousness maintains the honor of God and guards our own humility. But what of public witness? We’ll examine that idea tomorrow.

Jeff Hopper
September 22, 2015
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