Focus: Listening to the right voice
Psalm 1:1 (NKJV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful…
Right or wrong company has everything to do with your ability to keep moving forward in recovery. When you’re facing a situation you’re not sure about—who do you call as a sounding board, and why? Of course you try to call someone who you respect and trust—that is, if you know anyone who fits that description. It’s hard when it seems like there’s no one you can turn to. Then again, you might be tempted to share your problems with someone who is sympathetic—but may not be the right ‘pick’ spiritually. Discouragement can make you desperate. It’s natural to wish for someone who is willing to listen. When life is confusing and you’re emotionally crunched—it might really help for someone to give you some practical suggestions, if you’re open to that.
The problem is—knowing whether the advice you’re getting is what God would say, if you could see Him face to face. There are times when I get so frustrated that God doesn’t just ‘appear’ and give me a straight answer. Everything would be so much simpler, wouldn’t it? But, let’s face it—life is more like a puzzle. We have to search for the pieces one by one. Sometimes a piece looks like it’s going to fit. It’s the right color, the right shape. You looked a long time for it and now you have it in your hand—but then you try to fit it in where it looks like it should go, and guess what? It doesn’t fit after all. Close, but not close enough. So, back you go—looking for another piece. And on and on and on…
Even when you have the Word of God, which contains all the answers to every problem faced by mankind—sometimes you just run out of the energy to hunt, don’t you? Wouldn’t you rather have somebody just tell you what to do, so you don’t have to work at it? Of course you would.
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But, God must have wanted it this way. He must have thought it would be better for us to have to work on things and learn through experience to trust Him in times when we couldn’t find our way on our own. A God who is capable of being everywhere all at once could have made it possible for us to all to see Him at the same time—in our own way. He could have been a personal ‘Genie’ to every one of us—but He didn’t do it like that.
Sometimes, He allows us to have friends who will speak into our lives and give us guidance—but, for the most part, He wants to be the One we run to. He wants us to learn to sort His voice out from all the others. So that when somebody makes a suggestion to us—we’ll know if that person is the mouthpiece of God—or if they are just speaking something that ‘sounds good’.
The counsel of the ungodly may not look bad. It might sound pretty good, actually. It might look a whole lot like the ‘right puzzle piece’, but when you try to match it up with the Word of God—it’s not a fit.
Jeff and I lived in California for three years. A year and a half of that time, we weren’t married. The cost of living was very high. We each rented rooms in different condo complexes or homes. We moved a couple of times and it was complicated trying to find rooms that weren’t too far apart. We both worked full time and wanted to have as much time together as possible. Well meaning Christian friends said, why don’t you just get a place together? From a practical and financial standpoint—it might have made sense to them. However, Jeff and I had higher standards than that. We wanted to be married—but were willing to go through inconvenience and have our finances stretched until we were ready to make that commitment. We knew that living together out of wedlock was not God’s plan, according to His Word. If we had been looking for an excuse to do it anyway—there were plenty of ‘reasons’. Lots of people did it. It wasn’t unusual at all.
The words of Psalm 1:1 are interesting if you look at them closely. The verse talks about someone who will be blessed if they don’t ‘walk’ in the counsel of the ungodly. The next section of the verse goes from ‘walking’ in counsel—to ‘standing’ in the path of sinners. A person who is standing, is not moving forward, right? In other words, we could say that sin ‘stops you’. In the final section of the verse, we come to the ‘seat’ of the scornful. When someone is seated—they have ‘settled in’. They are not only ‘not moving forward’—they have taken up residence in a wrong place…a position of scorn. Someone who is scornful, thinks they know more that anyone else. They are arrogant, cynical, and egotistical. Someone who is weak might be fooled into thinking a scornful person is full of wisdom, because of the way they exalt their own opinion over what anyone else has to say. You can see how important it is to not listen to the wrong voice. The counsel of the ungodly leads us from walking to standing to sitting. It takes us from a place of being willing to listen—to sinning—to becoming scornful.
Declaration: I will find new strength by not being too anxious to take the advice of ‘just anyone’. I will carefully weigh any suggestions I am given against what the Word of God has to say. It might take more work, but in the end—all of the pieces will fit perfectly.
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