“Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread or sit in the seat of scoffers…” (Psalm 1:1, NRSV)
Often i’ve read this psalm and thought, “Yes, I will not take the advice of the wicked, or follow sinners, or be a scoffer.” I prayed with earnest that those outside influences would not lead me astray from God.
But the truth is, we don’t need an outside influence to lead us astray because we’re both saint and sinner. We can do bad pretty well all by ourselves.
We need only the most gentle of breezes to change our course into willful sin. Mostly, and unnoticed by us, the draft in the air comes from our own breath. We fool ourselves into thinking it is a wind dragging us away from the outside, when really it comes from us blowing hard in one direction while looking in the other.
Too often we follow our own advice, rather than scripture.
Too often we take our own sinful path, rather than the God trail.
Too often we build out own thrones of scoffing, rather than the step ladder of encouragement.
We don’t need to follow other sinners because we take our own advice, make our own way, and scoff at others.
Because of our sin, the grace we are given in Christ is absolute and not dependent on our own willingness. It changes us from the outside in. The “saint” in the saint/sinner identity we have as Christians is solely the work of Christ; it unites us to God.
When we read the Word in scripture, or hear the Word preached, or are given the Word in communion it erodes away at the hardness of heart we cling to and reveals the hot air billowing from our lives.
We can’t boast of any righteousness because it comes from the Word; it is not our own doing. The Word does the work, we receive it; the focus is always on the one who acts (Christ), not the one who relieves (us).
Lord, help us to fully depend on you and your Word. Give us the eyes to see when we take bad advice, follow our own way, and scoff at others. Forgive us for these things and give us a new way. Amen