Friday, December 2, 2011

What sign?


How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word.  I'm single-minded in pursuit of you; don't let me miss the road signs you've posted. 
(Psalm 119:9-10 The Message)

Yesterday, we finished the first "section" of this Psalm.  We begin the next "section" with David posing a question:  How do we live a clean life?  He sets out several things in the verses that follow - we will consider those over the next couple of days.  Before we get to the answer, we should try to understand the question a little better.  In some translations, this question is posed as:

- How shall a young man cleanse his way?  That one is a little confusing because it sort of focuses us on having to do the work of "cleaning up our act" ourselves.

- How can a young person live a pure life?  I like this one because it really gets to the core of what David is trying to say - he wants to know how he gets from the point of making impure decisions which lead to impure actions.

- How can a young person stay pure?  This one even brings it home a little clearer because it points out that purity is not a one-time "fix", but something that we need to stay focused on as we make our life choices.

So, now that we understand the question a little better, we are ready to begin to "digest" what is set out as the answers, right?  You know me better than that!  What does it mean to live a pure life?  Purity is a lost concept in our society today.  Therefore, we need to understand God's perspective on purity.  The word "pure" simply means to be free of things that contaminate our minds, emotions, or souls.  In science, we'd say that is being free from any "admixture" - there is nothing "mixed in".  

David is really asking God:  How do I live, truly live, without getting stuff "mixed into" my life that will lead me down wrong paths - in my speech, my actions, my thoughts, etc.?  Those are the kind of questions God enjoys answering.  They thrill his heart!  So, here's what God answers:

- By carefully reading the map of my Word.  Have you ever thought of the Word being like a road map?  If we begin to think of it that way, we might consult it more often, especially when we go into "unknown" territory.  A road map is only of value when it is consulted.  Have you ever traveled with someone who is too stubborn to consult a map?  Now, wives, don't all look at your husband right at this moment!  I imagine there have been a few times when you were "lost" yourself!  It is often our own stubbornness that keeps us from consulting God's Word.  When we get "lost" along the way, we are getting things "mixed into" our journey that don't need to be there!

- By being single-minded in your pursuit of Jesus.  It should go without saying that God desires us to keep Jesus central in our lives - the object of our focus. Yet, we have a tendency to "mix in" all kinds of other things, people, ideas, etc., in place of Jesus (or alongside Jesus).  The simple truth:  It will not work!

- By paying attention to the "road signs" clearly posted by the one who has prepared the journey.  Stop here for a moment.  Think about your last time on the road.  Did you really read each of those signs you whizzed on by?  Or did they become like wallpaper to you?  I am guessing that the latter was the case.  We often "miss" the signs because we turn a blind eye to them.  God says that he has put them there - we just need to pay attention to them.

So, as we delve a little deeper into the ways we walk free of "admixture" in our lives, let's begin with these three instructions for a safe journey.  Read the map!  Keep focused!  Don't ignore the signs!