September 21: How Firm a Foundation
How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord…
Some songs are directed toward God, some exhort or encourage our own hearts (perhaps addressed to “my soul”), and other songs we sing to each other. We sing How Firm a Foundation to “you saints of the Lord.” Who are these saints?
When I think of saints, I think of people like Mother Theresa, or maybe Stephen. Stephen, described in the Bible as being full of the Holy Spirit, delivered a hard-hitting, prophetic message, then looked up and saw the glory of Jesus in heaven, before being rushed at and dragged to his death. A saint is someone with a sacrificial life and a dramatic death, right?
Perhaps this is why some translations of the Bible don’t use the word “saints” anymore. We could never live up to the example of people like Mother Theresa and Stephen. We might think saints are only those canonized by the Catholic church. The word might seem old-fashioned. Or maybe the word is avoided because we’ve become disenfranchised with “spiritual greats” who have shown themselves to have grievous faults.
Instead of saints, translations use phrases like “the people of the Lord,” “the body of Christ,” or “God’s holy people.” The words being translated are derivatives of the Greek word “hagios” which simply means “holy.”
The next time you sing “How Firm a Foundation,” remember that we are describing one another as holy. Maybe you don’t think of yourself in this way, much less the person next to you in church. But we are holy because we are God’s people. Not because we’ve lived a sacrificial life or died a dramatic death, but because we’ve trusted in the One who did.
For reflection: Ephesians 1:15-23 and 2:19-22, Colossians 1:9-14, and 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 are a few of the passages that refer to God’s people as saints. What promises and privileges are described in these verses? Thank God for gifting you his holiness, and ask him to help you treat your brothers and sisters in Christ as holy.