Godly living cannot be divided into ‘secular’ and ‘sacred’, or to put it another way, it’s not just something we do on a Sunday! God hates that kind of division in our thinking and our living. Proverbs 21:3 says “to do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” , echoing Samuel’s words in 1 Samuel 15:23 (‘to obey is better than sacrifice’. ) In that passage, the king (Saul) had got tired of waiting for the prophet Samuel to arrive and offer the sacrifices, according to the laws God had set out. He wanted to do things his own way and thought that sacrificing his own way would be just as acceptable to God as doing things His way. He was wrong. The prophets frequently remind us that it’s not just about outward appearances; our actions must match our words. What God is looking for is set out in Micah 6:8: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

The opposite of humility is pride, and pride and arrogance are abhorred by God (Prov 21:4). Laziness belies the urgency of the mission God has given us (Prov 21:25); we have to do as well as hear ( “if you stop your ears to the cry of the poor, your cries will go unheard, unanswered.” Prov 21:11). God sees through our actions, moreover, to the heart of the matter: “we justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives.” (Prov 21:2); “mixed motives twist life into tangles; pure motives take you straight down the road.” (Prov 21:8)

We have a worthy calling and Ephesians urges us “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Eph 4:1) This means thinking about how we live (Prov 21:29), celebrating justice (Prov 21:15), being careful about what we say (Prov 21:23, see also Eph 4:29), and living in a responsible way. That involves careful planning (Prov 21:5), but also acknowledges that God is the One in control: “do your best, prepare for the worst – then trust God to bring victory.” (Prov 21:31) and “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” (Prov 21:30)