“Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.
But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.
And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].
Not so the wicked [those disobedient and living without God are not so]. But they are like the chaff [worthless, dead, without substance] which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked [those disobedient and living without God] shall not stand [justified] in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous [those who are upright and in right standing with God].
For the Lord knows and is fully acquainted with the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly [those living outside God’s will] shall perish (end in ruin and come to nought).”
For whom is this psalm written? Is it to be proclaimed loudly in the streets? Or shouted from the rooftops or any high place for wide distribution?
These are important questions that every reader of scripture should be asking of any scripture that they are reading. Context dictates just how the verses should be read so that the believer does not stumble into the trap of being misled, brought under condemnation, or getting caught up in the fundamentalist trap of misinterpretation, misrepresentation and division that brings the church into unnecessary ridicule.
Yes, we are instructed that those who follow the Word of God will be ridiculed by a world that cannot understand the spiritual nature of scripture (Mark 4:17). But some of the examples that I have encountered over the years have been the result of peddling a misreading, or a collective lack of any form of study of scripture replaced, instead, by a reliance upon the excuse that “it’s what Pastor preaches and that’s good enough for me!” forgetting that ‘Pastor’ may be self-appointed and off on their own super-spiritual limb.
Eventually the whole bough breaks, and everyone gets hurt, most particularly baby Christians who don’t know any better and may be driven away from seeking the truth of God’s word and the true promises therein. In either case a person who may have been desiring to sincerely work for God will have fallen; a congregation will have lost, or may turn to rend their leadership; and there will be those who will be disillusioned because they were following the man, rather than the word, or Holy Spirit himself.
Paul had to deal with some similar situations in his own ministry:
“For when one of you says, “I am [a disciple] of Paul,” and another, “I am [a disciple] of Apollos,” are you not [proving yourselves unchanged, just] ordinary people?
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Just servants through whom you believed [in Christ], even as the Lord appointed to each his task.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] was causing the growth.
So neither is the one who plants nor the one who waters anything, but [only] God who causes the growth.”
I Corinthians 3:4-7 AMP
The Church in Corinth was eager to be ‘doing’ the things of God. They fell into excesses that were leading them into error and bringing disrepute to the sharing of the Gospel and was harming their witness to the greater things God was wanting to show them. The concept of identity politics isn’t a new phenomenon, but it has no place in the kingdom of God.
“Imitate me as I Imitate Christ” I Corinthians 11:1 AMP
“Jesus said – “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially and morally] good except God alone.” Luke 18:19 AMP
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you I do not say on My own initiative or authority, but the Father, abiding continually in Me, does His works [His attesting miracles and acts of power]. John 14:10 AMP
Just as Jesus had done, Paul makes the point of directing us to give the honour and the gratitude for the works, for the personal growth, for the results to God the Father. But, even in the case of Jesus, he is trying to get the point across that a ‘personal’ relationship with God is essential. Paul is saying that following what any man has to say, without interrogating it in the light of the rest of scripture AND in accordance with the leading of Holy Spirit and the ministries that he has placed in the church will only lead to error. People are fallible, God is not. People can make mistakes, God does not.
Neither Jesus nor Paul are suggesting that we should not follow after them. Rather, they are saying:
“Only Follow after me to the degree and only in those things where I follow God.”
It is my desire that you would be equipped with the knowledge and the skills to be able to study the scriptures for yourself. As well as knowing how to use the tools that are available to do that in a more profound and instructive manner, as you continue in your walk with God with the ability to discern the difference between those things which are of God and those that are born of Religion and Religiosity.
Let’s take some of those steps together today.