We read a passage of Scripture such as Psalm 1 and, unfortunately, meditate too little upon it:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Yawning, we assure ourselves that we’ve got these verses nailed down as we move on to our television program.
Do we really have them nailed down? Do we walk “in the counsel of the wicked,” stand “in the way [path] of sinners,” and sit “in the seat of scoffers”? I think we may, though unwittingly, simply because we fail to think through matters biblically.
For instance, consider the concept of retirement. Worldly philosophy maintains that you work a certain number of years so that you can retire and spend the last couple of decades or so of your life at ease and pursuing leisure. Here’s something to think about: Where in the Scriptures do we find that notion?
Instead of looking toward “retirement years” as an opportunity for a lifestyle devoted to leisure and recreation, would it not be more scriptural to look at those years as an opportunity for serving God and others? If you have a job that allows you to retire at age sixty-five or so, God is granting you an opportunity to serve him in ways that you never could have during your years of regular employment. You have more time to study the Scriptures, to pray, to teach others, to take a younger person under your wing to disciple him or her. Sure, you may have the opportunity to take a trip that you could not have taken when you had your regular job. Go and take it and enjoy it, but leisure is not our calling, serving God and others is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
What about the clothes you wear? To say that we live in a day when too many women care little about modest clothing is to state the obvious. “But it’s the style,” someone counters. While there is no virtue in dressing fifty years behind the times, neither is there virtue in slavishly following the style of the day in order to attract attention to oneself, especially when that style entices men to mental impurity.
While worldliness is often displayed by our choices, worldliness is at root a matter of the heart. Writing in the seventeenth century, Thomas Watson provides a helpful illustration: “All the danger is when the world gets into the heart. The water is useful for the sailing of the ship; all the danger is when the water gets into the ship, so the fear is when the world gets into the heart.” The apostle John commands, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
As the redeemed children of God, we were made for more than finding our pleasure and satisfaction in that which pleases and satisfies the world. If the world is too much in our thinking and in our living, we are settling for an existence that is far less than the fulfilling and joyous life of one devotedly following God. In The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis maintains, “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of holiday by the sea.”