“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…” Psalm 1:1
If you are anything like me, you have known about this verse for most of your life. You, like me, have also probably assumed that this verse doesn’t really apply to you. And really, for most of my life, I have skimmed right over the first verse of Psalms without seeing its practical application for me.
What changed, though, was my understanding of the word wicked. The King James translates this word as ungodly. That clarification makes all the difference. I remember hearing a preacher put it this way: “An ungodly person is a person who lives their life as if God does not exist.” An ungodly person isn’t necessarily evil, twisted, or terribly bad. An ungodly person could be anyone – even a fellow Christian. In fact, I think that this is often a struggle that many Christians have – living their day-to-day lives as if there really is a God in heaven.
We could read Psalm 1:1 this way: “how blessed is the man who does not take spiritual life advice from people whose lives do not reflect the truth that God exists.”
When I read the verse that way something quickly becomes apparent to me: I often allow secular opinion and thought to influence the way that I think. For me specifically, I find that I tend to look for comfort, camaraderie, and advice in the blogs, quotes, books, and articles for people that struggle with similar things as I.
And, in some cases, doing that can be appropriate. I have found tremendous information from secular doctors and researches. However, where I tend to err is when I allow my time and emotions to be monopolized by the “ungodly” who experience situations nearly identical to my own. While it is only natural to seek a connection with people who have had the same experiences as I, it is unwise for me to allow myself to be influenced by people who ultimately hold different values than what the Bible teaches.
Whenever I look away from the Bible for spiritual/life information I must show discernment. I have here some questions (borrowed from the teaching of a local pastor) that can can be used to determine whether or not an influence, person, or activity is helpful to your own spiritual life:
- Is it profitable for your spiritual journey? (1 Corinthians 6:12, James 4:14)
- Does it have decision making power in your life? (1 Corinthians 6:12)
- Does it edify you? (1 Corinthians 10:23, 2 Peter 3:18)
- Is it a hindrance to bringing God glory? (1 Corinthians 10:31)
In recent months, letting ungodly philosophy influence my thinking and emotions is one small decision I have made that has lead me a little farther from God than I should be. Today that changes. Yes, my life experience has been hard, and it is nearly impossible to find people that relate to my situation. But God is good. He sees my needs and is working to bring me the information, people, and support that I need – in his time, and through his grace.