Monday, May 28, 2018

Open invitation

God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list?  "Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. "Don't hurt your friend, don't blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. "Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. "You'll never get blacklisted if you live like this." (Psalm 15)

David stands as a great example of how it is we are to communicate with God. He certainly doesn't seem to have a lot of preconceived pretense in his "discussions" with God. It isn't rehearsed or all that formal. He is conversant with God in a casual, relaxed manner - allowing God to reveal things to him as he just opened up his heart to God and then listened. David asks a question that I suppose many have asked over the years: How does someone get welcomed into God's presence? If anyone is ever curious about that truth, God isn't going to turn away, but he is going to respond to that curiosity. God gives him a list of fourteen characteristics that "stand out" in a man's character that makes that man "stand out" in God's eyes - things that are 'built in' the more we spend time with Jesus in thoughtful and prayerful discussion. Let's briefly look at each:

Walk straight - suggests that you are not stagnant in your walk. The walk is characterized by straightness - it has directed purpose, an aim in mind - the movement is not just movement for movement's sake. That movement or aim is God's best being achieved in one's life - single-minded focus that makes all movement purpose-driven and heading toward the target.

Act right - when our walk is directed purposefully toward the things God desires of each of us, it becomes easier to have our action be affected by the very goal we are directed toward. Action is always affected by the aim of our heart and mind - if it is rightly focused on God, we tend to act more consistently in accordance with his love and grace.

Tell the truth - look at the progression here: First, your aim in life needs to be Christ-centered. Then, your choice of action is affected by the fact that Christ is at the center and self is no longer the main object of your satisfaction. In turn, you begin to see your speech (words) be affected. The words we speak take on meaning and become life-giving when our aim is right. That is what truth is and what it produces - it is a well-spring of life to those that hear it.

Don't hurt your friends - did you know that one of the easiest ways we hurt each other is in the carelessness of our words? Our actions and our words can both hurt, but most people will be quick to tell you that words cut deeply. Actions may be more easily forgiven, while words are not quickly forgotten. Guard well your words. 

Don't blame your neighbor - we may not like it, but we are to own up to our behavior and don't shift blame to others. It is easy to blame-shift, but it takes a strength of character to say, "It was me; I had a part in that outcome." It is this admittance of blame that often begins the road to healing after an offense has been felt.

Despise the despicable - the mean, vile things are to be despised - akin to 'hated'. It is easier to despise a "scumbag", but a little more challenging to despise the sin that motivates the man to act as he does. It is never God's intent that we throw the sinner out with the sin - we are to embrace the sinner, and despise the sin. Oftentimes we get that backwards - but when we keep the right focus on this one, we find the sinner draws closer because they are intrigued by our openness to embrace even the unlovely.

Keep your word even when it costs you - and it WILL cost you to be true to your word! We use our words sometimes a little too freely and promise what we really did not intend to provide. God asks us to only promise what we can provide - words often commit us beyond our capacity or capability. Words like, "I will NEVER...." are rarely achievable, nor truthful. We need to learn to be realistic in our commitments - both to God and to others. In so doing, it becomes easier to keep our words.

Make an honest living - we all have a contribution that is to be made to society, family, and local community. Whatever that is, we need to engage in it with a focus on contributing what we are capable of contributing. The thing we might contribute that is most valuable is our time.

Don't take a bribe - this really goes hand in hand with making an honest living. Honesty and upright conduct should be the hallmarks of all we engage in.

If our conduct is reflective of his actions within our life, we are truly blessed individuals. Don't get me wrong - you don't need to be perfect - just moving in that direction! God welcomes those with a right focus - the rest is an outcome of focus. So, come right on into God's presence - he welcomes those who welcome his presence into their lives! Just sayin!