Most people prefer either sweet or salty food. Combine sweet with a good dash of chocolate and you will discover the pinnacle of my personal food preference. A good appetite is a sure sign of physical health; an unceasing appetite for the word of God and His presence are attributes of good spiritual health as well.
While reading Psalms 1, I began to evaluate how “healthy” my appetite presently is.
“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.”
The progression, or rather digression, within these verses is quite obvious:
- walk in step
- stand in the way
- sit in the company
Allow me to form this progression more fully. If I’m not careful, I can find myself walking “in step” with others down the “chocolate-covered-delicacy” aisle in the grocery store (which of course I could find in a power outage blindfolded)! Although temptation is building, there is no serious problem yet.
It is when I actually stop and “stand” in front of those mouth-watering goodies, that I begin to feel compelled by some indefinable inner force to reach for my chosen “yummies”. Temptation has reached a whole new level!
I convince myself to plunk those goodies into the shopping cart, pay the price and stash them into the pantry for “company”. But what happens next is predictable! You and I both know that inevitably I will end up sitting “in the company” of those sweet treats, devouring their scrumptious, though unhealthy, goodness.
The cycle is complete! I have stepped, stood and sat. The process is repetitively familiar especially at moments of fatigue and stress!
Unfortunately, a far more serious cycle is the rhythm I notice in these verses!
“…does not walk in step with the wicked…”
Generally, I’m not overly tempted to “walk in step with the wicked.” In my work place, I meet face to face people being charged with serious crimes. I am reminded of the historic events of World War II where inconceivable wickedness was unleashed in unprecedented measures. Walking the soil of Cambodia, where unspeakable atrocities were openly committed, was a life-changing experience for me.
My main temptation is neither to “walk in” or even skirt around such serious issues. Blatant wickedness should and must cause everything in me to rise up and say, “Enough!”
“…or stand in the way that sinners take…”
Now “sinner” is far more inclusive!
“for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God”
Like it or not, I am one of “all”. Paul puts it so well,
“I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do I do not do,
but what I hate I do.”
Tolerance toward our own or other’s sinful bahaviour, is actually a form of “standing”. In fact, this word “stand” literally means to “delay or hold back from doing something.” Christ has made the way; we can immediately turn to Him, repent and begin moving forward. There is no place for sin in our spiritual shopping cart!
There have been individuals and groups throughout history who have been so entirely consumed with evil that only a thunderclap of the hand of God is sufficient to turn them from it. Disdain for such wickedness has a way of mellowing to tolerance, and finally to blind consent.
Stand “in the way that sinners take” long enough and one becomes acclimatized to sin. How deeply does abortion, euthanasia, human trafficking burn upon my heart? Do I feel its sting as strongly now as ten or twenty years ago?
Sitting is my real problem! A personal pitfall! This term holds the context of “a dwelling place or abiding in a given location.”
“…or sit in the company of mockers…”
Mockers are those “who make what is good and holy the object of their ridicule“: “defiant, cynical, free-thinkers”; “their character is proud, self-sufficiency”. That description covers most of the culture we live in! A literal translation for the word is “pests”.
Have you ever sat down for a wonderfully prepared and planned picnic only to have pesty flies, mosquitoes and wasps show up and spoil the whole affair?
I am uncomfortable with “mockers”. Usually I make attempts to steer conversation toward a healthy path, try to insert the positive, or silently wait for opportunity to escape the situation. Unfortunately, far too often for far too long I “sit”! Why?
“I never sat in the company of revelers,
never made merry with them;
I sat alone because your hand was on me
and you had filled me with indignation.”
Jeremiah had it right! He chose to sit alone rather than with negative talkers and mockers. How? His priorities and focus what set in the right place — toward God.
The Appetite Solution
The psalmist gives the solution:
“Blessed is the one …
whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who mediates on his law
day and night…”
My delight and desire, like my appetite, is where I find pleasure and will chose to sit.
Whatever I am hungry for, I will crave; cravings seek to be satisfied. If my “delight” is toward God, I will set His word, His desires, His perspective above my own and those of others. It will matter far more to me what He thinks than the judgments of those around me. Alone with Him will actually become the best place to be!
“Who stands fast?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer asked.
“Only the man … the responsible man,
who tries to make his whole life
an answer to the question
and call of God.”
There are many heroic men and women who have influenced generations with courage, stepping in time to a heavenly calling, standing perilously for righteousness at the cost of their lives and with steadfast voice spoke living truth. Such courage and bravery doesn’t come from walking, sitting and standing contrary to God!
The ways of the world may taste good for the moment, but the repercussions go far beyond.
Listen to the promise within these few verses:
Now that is something worth chewing on! I may crave the sweet, but it is fruit that satisfies my need!
The image is of perpetual beauty and productivity. “Prosper” describes the Holy Spirit’s affect on persons making them powerful and mighty; pushing forward and breaking out; or rushing forward in battle.
A consistent appetite for the word of God by sitting with the truths of scripture, standing in His Presence, and walking along His path, reaps undeniable generational and eternal spiritual benefits.
Bravo to a healthy appetite!