Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).
March 3, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Day One” by Mattehw West which currently sits at #12 at 20theCountdownMagazine.
The song definitely in the “positive” and “uplifting” category. But is this song a Christian song? Does it elevate Christ? Does it preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins? Nope. It is a motivational pep talk.
In fact, there is a popular quote from the 60s (source).
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
Charles Dederich (1914-1997) Founder of Synanon, the 1960s drug rehabilitation organization that morphed into a cult
Most sources credit Charles Dederich with coining this well-known self-help mantra in the 1960s, around the time he founded Synanon. Clearly, it’s use by Dederich and Synanon as a slogan for recovering drug addicts helped popularize the saying. However, Dederich may or may not have created it. It’s one of those sayings that just seem to have been floating around in the 1960s. Many websites and books say it was coined by the legendary Hippie activist/theater group called The Diggers. It was also used by Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman in his 1968 book Revolution for the Hell of It (1968), as the title of a song in the obscure 1968 musical Love Match,and on on everything from head shop posters and greeting cards. I suspect that’s why some sources simply (and perhaps rightly) credit it to “Anonymous.”
I’m sure you’ve heard the slogan, just didn’t know where it had originated.
VEVO Lyric Video
Lyrics (via K-Love)
Grace and Mercy are mentioned. Let’s look at how they are mentioned.
“…every single day Your grace reminds me that my best days are not behind me…”
Is the message of Grace really about how our best days are not behind us? In what sense? What is the message of Grace?
Ephesians 1:1-14 (ESV) | Greeting & Spiritual Blessings in Christ
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
The Grace of God is that in Christ we have been redeemed so that when we die we will be granted an inheritance of heaven, to the praise of His glory. That is what the Grace of God should remind us of. Why is that important, because the days we walk here on earth will be filled with trials and tribulation. We have no guarantee of an easy life in the temporal sense.
James 1:2-4 (ESV) | Testing of Your Faith
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
By faith, we are to consider it a joy to meet trials of various kinds so that we might be made perfect and complete in what matters. The world will hate us and mistreat us because it first hated Jesus Christ. The sermon on the mount (Matthew 5) isn’t just an academic exercise. Our victory in Christ is secured in the Kingdom of Heaven. The temporal is doomed for destruction, cursed by sin. Our very flesh is cursed by sin and we will die in God’s timing. God’s grace is sufficient and our inheritance by the Blood of Christ is assured.
Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV) | Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Is this “Day One of the rest of my life” pointing to our Spiritual assurances of Heaven or an empty promise of temporal ‘best days’ and ‘bright future’ ahead? A passage that is often lifted out of its context to bolster a “forget the past because your future is bright” message is
Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV) | Straining Toward the Goal
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
But now let’s keep reading
15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
The upward call isn’t “a promotion; a new career; a new ministry; financial freedom, etc.” Paul is literally referring to the upward call to Heaven, whether it be by death or on the Day of Christ’s Return. What lies ahead in the temporal might very well be worse than what is behind. It was in Paul’s case, and for the other Apostles, if we are looking at the temporal. Paul gave up a life of wealth, comfort, esteem, and social status for the Cross of Jesus Christ. His eternal reward far outweighs any suffering he had to endure in Jesus’ Name, and that he did according to the Grace of God.
Is this the Truth of God’s Grace that the song proclaims? I’ll leave that for you to decide. At least after reading this, you are equipped to focus on the Grace of God to strengthen you in the hard times that lie ahead.
Mercy. What does it mean to have God’s mercy new every day? I believe it is a reference to a verse in Lamentations 3. If you only read verses 22-24, it’s easy to shout, “Amen!”. However, if you read these verse in context, it might come less exuberantly. In the interest of time, let’s look at its local context.
Lamentations 3:16-33 (ESV)
16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
17 my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.”
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone in silence
when it is laid on him;
29 let him put his mouth in the dust—
there may yet be hope;
30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.
31 For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men.
God is good. His mercies are endless. His Grace does abound. That doesn’t mean we get to proclaim and declare that our days ahead (in this life) are going to be brighter than those behind. That isn’t a promise given to us in God’s Word. As long as we remain focused on treasures in Heaven, and on the Truth of God’s Word, we will find ourselves on solid ground. We sin… every day we sin. God’s mercy and forgiveness is available to us at the foot of the Cross every day. Repent, and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.
The song is vague enough that someone could argue that what is being proclaimed in the song is the Spiritual truth, not the temporal lie of the “prosperity gospel” (which is no Gospel at all). Others might insist that there’s nothing wrong with “being positive” and this song accomplishes that. I won’t argue against “positivity”, but the world does pretty well at self-esteem and pep rallies. We, the Church, have something far better than self-help psychology has to offer. We have the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s place our hope, our faith, in Him, not our ability to “start over”. It’s not about making new and fresh promises to ourselves or to God to “live better”… it’s about repenting, being forgiven in Jesus’ Name, and walking in the Grace of God and being filled with the Spirit who teaches us and molds us into the fullness of Christ. He will also rebuke, correct, and admonish us… to repent anew, until the Great day when we’ll finally be rid of this sinful flesh.
Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,