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Removing wickedness from your sight

Psa 101:1-4 A Psalm of David. I will sing of mercy and justice; To You, O LORD, I will sing praises. (2) I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. (3) I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. (4) A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.

Oh, if it were only true that I did not know wickedness.  I think that this is a lament that most of us (most=99.44%) can make.  I don’t know when David wrote this Psalm, at what point in life, but I know that he didn’t live up to it when you take his whole life into consideration. Yet, he was a man of God, not because of his imperfections, but because he repented and turned from wickedness when he did sin.

One thing that is for sure, if you look at these verses of the psalm you may come away with the idea that in seeking God, it is necessary to turn from evil. When Israel met the Lord on Mt. Sinai, they spent 3 days in preparation and purifying themselves. What kind of evil David has in his mind is not specified and it may just be wickedness in general, Gossip and pride are mentioned later on, but this phrasing makes an interesting lesson too easy to pass up.

I will set nothing wicked before my eyes. As in, perhaps, just to pull something out at random…mmmm, uh…Television?

I just finished watching a commercial for a new movie coming out, or I think it just did come out. “This means War”. (I say finish watching because I didn’t have the remote in hand to turn the channel) You know, I feel too old sometimes when I begin to question whether I am just becoming too strict on things like this, or if it simply is the Devil trying to goad me back to a time where I didn’t really care so much. (Which is not to say that I shouldn’t have cared but I was young and well “It won’t affect me” seems to be a common statement even today. Ah, youth….I believed (past tense) that statement too! )

Now I notice things that shouldn’t be there to be noticed in the first place. This movie has sexual tension and themes written all over it and just from the commercials; it is going to appeal to the baser desires. The question you need to ask yourself is what is it that you will be subjecting yourself to?  Is it good? Is it edifying?

Now for anyone under 30 who reads this, I will give you a disclaimer here. If this movie had come out, when I was in your age range or younger even, sure, I would want to see it. I would have gone to see it. However, I do not offer myself as a standard, I wouldn’t go if I had developed the sense of understanding that I have now. Still, if you are going to use a standard of any kind, ask yourself if Jesus would go to that movie? Read the reviews and then ask yourself, if you walked in on  your friend with their boyfriend/girlfriend doing the same things in that movie (in real life—not fiction) would you pull up a chair and pop some popcorn? (ugh. Just asking that question makes it seem not clean!)

I know I mentioned Television and wandered off into movie land but even on TV, the question needs to be asked. My opinion is that the commercials are worse than the shows. You have to watch with a remote in your hand. Maybe it is time to put the remote down, after you turn the TV off.

Waiting for the crown of life.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
(Jas 1:12) ESV

James began his letter  by telling us to rejoice when we meet various trials. He talks about the trials producing steadfastness,  gives some advice about obtaining wisdom, and gives counsel to the rich and the poor. Even that counsel to the rich and the poor is within the overall theme of standing fast in trials because each economic status brings its own sets of trials.

The question is often asked: Does verse twelve  belong with the section above or the section below? I honestly think that it applies to  both. James uses this statement as a transition from trials/temptations in general to a specific type of temptation, one that entices to sin.  Some versions pick up on the slight difference by using “trial” in verse 3 but use “temptation” in verse 12. The ESV uses “trial” in both verse 3 and 12.

Temptations (direct enticements to sin) are definitely discussed in verse 13 but not all trials (temptations-NKJV) are direct enticements to sin. The death of a loved one, the need to find a different discipline for the youngest child who responds differently than the first two (thus the need to pray for wisdom),or  some financial set back can test us and may lead us toward sin but throwing our faith away is not the most likely response.  Of course, if enough of those trials are heaped on top of us, we may choose to buckle but Job did not buckle under his trials and, as far as I know, they were not direct enticements to sin, with the exception of his wife’s advice to “curse God and die.”

In either case, James ties our reward in Heaven (the crown of life) to standing fast. The only way to be able to say that one has stood fast in this context is to die faithful in the Lord. In other words, it is the summation of a Christian’s whole life not a few victories and  then a sliding away. This is a similar to Revelation 2:10 “be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life”. The idea then is that  trials will be present throughout our life, but this should not disturb us.

Verse twelve also reminds us who this reward is for. He says that the crown of life is promised for those who love God. Much is made of the fact that God loves us. John 3:16 is a well known and comforting verse. However, to be loved by someone does not mean you love them in return. The greatest commandment is that we love God with our whole being, so it stands to reason that this promised crown of life is to those who love him in return. How do you know you love him? In this context, when you have stood fast through your whole life, your love is shown.

As we go through and grow through these trials, our hope is set on Christ and that crown of life that awaits us. Our steadfastness in trials and temptations will allow us to say with Paul:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
(2Ti 4:7-8)

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