Only one way to thrive with life


Dale McCamish - Contributing columnist



This week’s article focuses on the warning from Psalm 1. Check out last week’s article on the blessings which Psalm 1 illustrates by going to wnewsj.com.

Psalm 1, verses 3 and 4, poetically describe how the anti-God life makes the wicked person unproductive, withered, and malnourished. According to Psalm 1, the wicked person did not just suddenly become a dried-out husk, but gradually slid toward destruction.

First, the person on the road to ruin “walks” with evil counsel, then “stands” with sinners, accepting and participating in evil actions, and finally, “sits” with the mockers.

Verse 1 provides the first warning: don’t take the advice of the ungodly. If we constantly fill our minds with godless philosophies — “walking” with the wicked — then our thinking becomes foolish like those who are against God. Conversely, Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, real wisdom comes from obeying His commands (Matthew 7:24-27). We should seek godly counsel.

Things get worse in the second warning. After listening long enough, the wicked person begins to participate in evil. “Blessed is the one who does not…stand in the way that sinners take.” There is more than one way to “stand” with sinners, but the Hebrew word for sinners depicts a group waiting in ambush to rob or kill unsuspecting travelers.

On the one hand, most of us would say, “I would never do such a thing,” but that is the emphasis of Psalm 1, verse one. Over time, repeated evil thinking sears our conscience like a hot iron. Eventually, we cannot even tell the difference between right and wrong.

One author explains it this way, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” On the other hand, Jesus tells us to follow Him. Obeying the commands of Jesus helps us avoid committing shameful actions.

The last warning of Psalm 1, verse 1, reveals the worst character trait: “sitting in the company of mockers.”

The label, mockers, indicates the wicked person no longer listens to good advice and may be incapable of taking any decent action. The mocker makes fun of what is holy. Listening to the wicked and participating with sinners makes the mocker an expert in corruption.

The mocker’s worst offense is recruiting others onto the path of destruction. No wonder Psalm 1, verse 5, foresees this person “will not [be able to] stand in the judgement.”

Jesus tells us, “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction,” and many take that path (Matthew 7:13).

So how do we avoid this path of destruction?

Psalm 1, verse 2, says we must delight to immerse ourselves in Scripture. When we fall in love with Jesus and trust that He can change us, He shows us how to delight in the teachings of God.

Knowing God’s counsel helps us avoid the traps into which the wicked fall. Jesus already walked this path, preparing it ahead of us. The Jesus way allows us to stand in the judgement, join with the assembly of the righteous, and nourishes our soul.

The Jesus path is the “narrow road” that leads to the good life, “but few find it,” but it is the only way in which our souls will be able to thrive with life.

Dale McCamish is Pastor at the Wilmington Church of Christ.

This weekly column is provided to the News Journal on a monthly rotation basis by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.

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Dale McCamish

Contributing columnist