If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Leviticus 13, Psalms 15–16, Proverbs 27, 2 Thessalonians 1. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Psalm 15.
There is nothing that starts off the day quite like a detailed, lengthy chapter describing God’s will regarding a defiling disease on your skin and defiling mold in your house! Stick with these tough readings in Leviticus; their importance will become clear in a few chapters and I’ll talk at that point about why it was so important to God to include all of this in his holy word.
For now, though, let’s turn our attention to Psalm 15. When I was in high school I read a devotional by Charles Swindoll where he described this chapter as “The Gentleman’s Psalm.” I don’t think that was original with him, nor do I think it is a very good description of what is going on in this song of David. For starters, the opening verse does not frame this song as a describing the ideal man or the person everyone wants to be friends with; it begins by telling us that this is who God wants to be friends with. Verse 1: “Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?” In other words, what kind of person would God want hanging around all the time? Or, to put it another way, how do you become someone who is truly godly and practices the presence of God in your life?
Verse 2 a-b says that it starts by living a righteous life. This refers to your actions and habits. Being “blameless” means that anyone who surveils you will find nothing to disqualify you before God. The second line of verse 2, “who does what is righteous” clarifies the meaning of “blamelessness.” Not only will you be a godly person if you do not sin, but you will also be considered godly if you’re someone who makes a positive moral contribution to the world. A godly person, one like God, is holy and helpful.
Verses 2c-3 tell us that the friend of God is someone who is pure in how they use words. They speak truthfully “from the heart” (v. 2c), indicating a sincerity that will cause you not to shade the truth so that others will like you or deliver the truth in a harsh, unloving way that wounds another person unnecessarily. Verse 3 continues the theme by saying a godly life is one that is not damaging or destructive to others, either in word or action.
Not that you merely accept everyone uncritically, because verse 4a says that, as God’s friend, you will value those who fear God and reject (as friends) those who have rejected God.
Rounding out the description of the godly is a perfect commitment to your promises, covenants, and obligations (v. 4b), generosity toward those who are poor (v. 5a), and honesty and integrity in court (v. 5b).
This is quite an impressive description and lays out qualities that we all should aspire to be true in our lives. But David does not say these are things to aspire to; he says that they are true of the one who is God’s friend. And, that is the problem; nobody’s perfect in all of these areas and an objective critic of your life who watches you closely enough might even find fault with you in areas you thought were OK. Instead of being an encouraging checklist to follow, meditation on this passage will make us deeply aware of how many areas exists where we fall short of God and how frequently we do fall short of him. God does not want friends who earned their way into his favor by good works; he’s never wanted that. He wants children who do good works because they share his nature. What you are by nature determines how you act naturally. And, by nature, none of us is a godly person or even a gentleman/woman. This is why Christ is so important and so precious to us. He became the godly man we could never be. He walked blamelessly by nature and authentically did what was righteous, speaking the truth always but always in love. Jesus never damaged anyone either in word or in action but he wasn’t uncritically accepting of everyone either. He fulfilled every commitment he ever made, fed the hungry poor and even healed their diseases without ever compromising to impress or favor the rich and powerful. And, by grace, we get credit for this, the active righteousness of Christ. We can live on God’s holy mountain because Jesus earned the right for us to live there and God by grace accepted his merits on our behalf. Plus, by his power, through his spirit and word, through trials, rebuke, and repentance, God is growing the new nature in each of us so that we DO operate this way by nature as children of God by regeneration. So be secure in what Christ has given to you while cooperating with God’s holy work in your life, making you into the man or woman Christ declared you to be when you trusted in him.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.