Victor Lyons, pastor
Second Memorial Baptist Church, Perry
My grandmother would often send me on my way with the words “Be good!” That her grandchildren were good was important to her. In a small community, misbehavior reflected badly upon the parents and grandparents, casting a shadow on the family’s reputation.
Proverbs repeatedly warns us against envying the wicked (3:31; 23:17; 24:1). Proverbs 4:14-17 is quite thorough, though blunt: “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil” (ESV). Certainly bad behavior is overrated and like a trap that will consume the activist (Prov. 1:15-19).
Goodness is not a valued commodity. Personal morality is of little or at most secondary value compared to the great social issues of the day.
Commentator David Brooks describes today’s morality in these words: “It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You follow your desires wherever they take you, and you approve of yourself so long as you are not obviously hurting anyone else” (The Road to Character, 2015, xiv).
All ethics begin with the character of each person.
God’s Word will keep us from sin – Psalm 119:9-11
To stray in verse 10 and to sin in the context of verse 11 highlights to “lose one’s way” (Hossfeld & Zenger, 267). Humanity’s sinful nature is a reality!
According to David Brooks, the abandonment of the word “sin” has three primary causes: (1) We want to deny the depraved view of human nature; that’s simply too much darkness for the modern mentality; (2) The word “sin” was used to declare war on pleasure, even healthy pleasure; (3) The word “sin” was abused by the self-righteous … dry-hearted scolds … people who embraced a harsh and authoritarian style (54).
Nevertheless, Brooks pleads that sin is a necessary piece of our mental furniture, listing four reasons: (1) It affirms that “life is a moral affair”; (2) Sin is “baked into our natures and is handed down through the generations; the plight of sin is communal”; (3) It explains “the black depraved stain on our hearts”; (4) Finally, “without it, the whole method of character building dissolves. The person involved in the struggle against sin understands that each day is filled with moral occasions” (54-55).
God guides us to understand His Word – Psalm 119:12-13
The Hebrew word “baruchk” recalls the reverence due to the Lord. The popular greeting “Have a blessed day!” understands itself in the light of God’s Presence as He empowers and guides. Being teachable is fundamental!
Whether preaching to one’s inner circle – family and friends – or to a congregation, there is a blessing for the hearer and the proclaimer.
Rejoice in what God teaches us in His Word – Psalm 119:14-16
Learning to treasure God’s Word and rejoicing in its benefits is optional but essential to character building.
Live it Out
Reading God’s Word daily cultivates a Christ-like attitude.
After discovering passages that deal with sin in general and specific sins in particular, ask the Holy Spirit to help you deal with your own sin.
Living a life based on biblical principles will impact Society.