Thursday, July 18, 2013

Character exposed

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 15:1-5

TO CHEW ON: "Lord, who shall dwell [temporarily] in Your tabernacle? Who shall dwell [permanently] in Your holy hill?" Psalm 15:1 (Amplified)

Years ago when I had a cigarette smoking habit, I remember coming home to the farm, opening my suitcase and feeling shocked at how rank my clothes smelled. In my town apartment I never noticed because the smell of cigarette smoke was everywhere. But in my farm bedroom where the air was clean, that foul smell was impossible to miss.

David begins Psalm 15 with a question: 'Who can live with God?' His readers know God's presence is pure, holy and sinless. They expect a meditation on what it means to live in a way that won't offend God's holiness. David delivers by drawing attention to character traits. These are showcased by actions (actually, he speaks of them here as a lack of actions). As I read through them I find myself asking - am I like this, or the opposite?

David's conclusions about the man (or woman) who may dwell with God. He/she:
  • Lives a life of "uprightness" - honesty, goodness, blamelessness and truth, even in his thoughts (Psalm 15:2).
  • Watches what he says, taking care to avoid the smart comeback (sarcastic? cruel? - called a "backbite") and slander (Psalm 15:3).
  • Doesn't take up a reproach (Psalm 15:3). I understand this as refraining to take up my friend's cause thus making a rift between me and someone who hasn't hurt me but has hurt my friend. I have heard of situations where the wronged person and the perpetrator have long settled their quarrel, but the reproach-taker still carries a grudge.
  • Is a good judge of the character of others (Psalm 15:4). In our day of hero and star worship, we need more of this.
  • Keeps his promises even when he loses money by doing it (Psalm 15:4).
  • Refuses to take advantage of someone when they're down (Psalm 15:5).
  • Doesn't use underhanded methods to get his own way (Psalm 15:5).

The clothes in my bag looked just fine. They smelled okay to me too - until, exposed to clean air, I discovered they were impregnated with something that smelled bad.

In the same way we may think our lives are just fine - until we spend time in God's pure, sinless presence. Let's let His word and Spirit deal with the hidden aspects of our characters today (the ones mentioned above, and any others).

PRAYER: Dear God, please show me anything within that displeases You. "I acknowledge my sin to You and my iniquity I have not hidden….I confess my transgressions to the Lord and You forgave the iniquity of my sin" Psalm 32:5.

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