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Part of the FBCS 2010 Read Through the Bible Project: Enter the Story. Join the Song.

Useless Unless We Trust . . .

Titus 3    Jeremiah 17-18    Psalm 127

“Unless the Lord builds the house . . .” (Psalm 127:1). In whom, or what, do you place your trust? This is the question placed before us by today’s readings. Hear it in the Psalmist’s “unless the Lord.” Hear it, again, in the prophet’s contrast between “those who trust in mere mortals” and “those who trust in the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5-8). Then, hear it a third time in the apostle’s instruction to avoid engaging in “unprofitable and worthless” behaviors while being careful to “devote themselves to good works” (Titus 3:8,9). Unless the Lord builds the house, all is useless (or, “in vain”). Well.

“He saved us.” (Titus 3:5). Not because of any good work or effort of ours, “but according to his mercy.” Are we listening? The Lord saves and heals (Jeremiah 17:14). It is, therefore, completely useless to build life around anyone (or anything) else (v.5). The Lord gives meaning to our work and rest to those who rely on his love (Titus 3:8; Psalm 127:2). It is thus pointless to attempt to secure life through our own “anxious toil” (Psalm 127:2) . . . By God’s preceding mercy and prevenient grace we “become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). And this is a matter of trust . . .

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:7). They shall be as “a tree planted by water” (Jeremiah 17:8). And out of this secure place of trust, they are freed and empowered to “learn to devote themselves to good works” (Titus 3:14). In other words, trust the Lord and do good works. Never the reverse. Any other order, effort, or focus is simply useless. So may the Lord build our house. May we dwell secure in God’s mercy and love. And may we devote ourselves to every good work. Amen.

“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved;
for you are my praise.”
— Jeremiah 17:14

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