How often do you find yourself considering doing evil? I find that I have a few certain sins that cause me to fall into their trap time after time, some daily. For me it doesn’t seem like I get tempted by each option that blows by, instead I fall for a few specific things often when they are in my path. When I look through my list of confessions to God it seems like there are several issues that make almost daily appearances.
In our reading today, David states his goal of “being careful to live a blameless life”. Next he writes out a very specific list of things he will do and not do to help him self accomplish his goal of living a blameless life. He even goes so far as to list the traits he will not tolerate in those around him and says that he will only allow those above reproach to serve him. He says his daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and to free up his city from the grip of those wicked people. This passage lists the specific steps David plans to take each day to help him keep his promise or commitment to God of living a blameless life. Thank God that I, unlike David, do not rule a city. My world and life are smaller than what he was responsible for at the time this was written. Because of the life he lived I see the wisdom in stating his goals and the things he could not tolerate in the people around him. But I wonder what I can learn from his approach.
My story looks different than David’s does. In past years, I would make sweeping promises to God like, “I am going to beat this issue!” or “I will never do that specific thing again”. I may have made it a day or two or even a little longer on certain issues without falling but the truth was that I never truly “beat” the issue. It would always rear its ugly head at some point and I’d give in and do it again. My promises broken, I wanted to hide from God instead of going to Him for forgiveness. Out of shear necessity I quit making promises I couldn’t keep. I think I felt like a double failure in these instances, first for sinning and second for not keeping my commitment to God. After a good amount of time with no promises and only confessing the actual sin, I started to see a pattern in one of my main struggles. Sometimes the thought of this particular sin would pop into my mind and I would consciously think, “I’ll deal with the consequences of this later-go ahead and enjoy”, and at other times I would consciously think “Not with God near. The idea is so offensive, I couldn’t possibly do it in front of Him.” So what is the deciding factor in which approach I decide to take? For me, it is if I have spent time with Him earlier that day and if I have had a strong run of consecutive days of time with Him. When I have spent more time with Him, He is able to communicate more freely with me because I have put myself in position to hear His promptings, He manages the temptation for me. I think I am finally coming to grips with the fact that I will never develop enough willpower to overcome some issues. God is the only one who can change the way I think and the way I respond to situations. (We all know this to be true in knowledge from reading the Bible, but I think I am actually seeing it work in my life so it is becoming real to me like never before.)
Like David I want to live a blameless life. While my circumstances are very different than David’s, I am learning that my strongest defense against sin is closer relationship with God. I see the wisdom in David’s plan to put the best influences around him self and to remove the people with ungodly habits from his close associates. By vetting his staff with his list of strong moral criteria, he built a support system and a hedge of accountability around him in his daily life. He had the wisdom to use other people’s relationship with God to support him in his desire to live blamelessly. I have made similar choices in the people I choose to spend my time with. It helps to have likeminded people with the same life goals as me being the main voices speaking into my life. While these relationships with people will never hold a candle to the power and influence that my relationship with God has in my life, they are a huge help in keeping me aimed at my goal. So maybe today I need to read David’s words as a set of guidelines to help me achieve my goal instead of seeing them as proclamations or promises to God that I am unable to keep. If I set up a good support system around myself, and stay committed to spending the time with Him that I know I need, I will see Him make me different than I am today.