Introduction – Mind Your Friends
Many parents tell their children to be careful about who they spend their time with. “Choose your friends wisely” is the popular refrain of many a caring mother and father.
Of course, many children refuse this instruction. I know I certainly did at times, only to be greeted with such phrases as “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future” and “If you lie with dogs you’ll get fleas.”
While not hanging with the “cool” kids might make us angry as kids, as we get older we understand our parents’ foresight. Our parents monitored who we spent time with to protect us. It was for our well-being.
Ultimately, their protection stemmed from their great love for us. I’m thankful my parents cared enough to keep an eye on my comings and goings as a child and even as a teenager. (Prov. 22:6 KJV)“Being chosen and set apart gives us all the more reason to pay attention to our comings and goings.”However, being mindful of who we spend time with is not just advice for us to take in our youth.
In fact, as we get older it becomes even more important for us to monitor our comings and goings. Namely, watching who we spend time with and how.
Even more so for believers, because we are children in Christ and because Jesus is our Father. (Jn. 1:12 KJV, Matt. 23:9 KJV) As our holy parent, He loves us with an everlasting love. (Jer. 31:3 KJV)
What is even more profound is that He loves us so much that He chose us out of the world (Jn. 15:18-19 KJV) and has set us apart for Himself. (Ps. 4:3 KJV)
Being chosen and set apart gives us all the more reason to pay attention to our comings and goings, and it shows us just why God cares so much about us.
Just like our earthly parents He wants to protect us from the evil influences of others. He desires to shield us so that we do not learn or do evil. (Ps. 106:35 KJV)
Walking, Standing and Sitting
God tells us that we are blessed when we avoid sinful people. However, what does this look like in life?
First, a word of caution. Avoiding sinful people does not mean we never associate at all with non-Christians. We are not to go out of the world and stop interacting with people. (1 Cor. 5:10 KJV)
What it does mean though is that we are to be intentional and mindful of who we spend our time with. Our main verse for today shows us three ways that this plays itself out in life.
Notice what the Psalmist says. First, we are not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly.
When we walk in someone else’s counsel we heed and take their advice. We walk in the ways they walk. How they handle situations is how we will handle situations. In this case this means that we will take their opinions and run with them.
However, the ungodly here are wicked. They are criminals that are against God Himself, as all sinners are and as we used to be before God saved us.
They are hostile to God and man. If we are not careful, our association with them will quickly turn on us and we will find ourselves acting in ways criminal to our savior.
Second, the Psalmist tells us we are not to stand in the way of sinners. Where we stand says a lot about who we are.
Where we choose to stand is where we want to be, its where we set up shop and it implies that we are perfectly fine to stay standing just as we are. “Standing among the sinful damages our testimony, it tells the world that though we are set apart from the world, we have chosen to remain in it.”
Standing also lends itself to being recognized. Others see where we stand. Those who stand do not do so hiding in a corner.
Often we “take a stand” and people commonly say “If you do not stand with me, you are against me!” Standing is an intentional act.
Sinners are offenders but we are fellow heirs with Christ. (Rom. 8:17 KJV) Standing among the sinful damages our testimony, it tells the world that though we are set apart from the world, we have chosen to remain in it.
It says that in reality there is nothing important about Jesus. It communicates to others that we stand with the world and when we stand with sinners it tells Jesus that our allegiance is not with Him.
Sadly, this does untold damage to God’s kingdom by turning people away from Him.
Lastly, we are not to sit in the seat of the scornful. This is the gravest warning of all and it is also the most specific of the three as the type of sinner is identified.
Where you sit, dwell, and assemble matters. Its where you spend most of your time. When we sit it means we are relaxed and comfortable, we’re not prone to get up and leave.
Those in this state give attention towards something (or in this case someone). They don’t want to get up, they want to hear what they have to say.
Those who are scornful mock God and others. They are prideful. Yet, these types of people are often entertaining to be around. They also tend to possess power and can appear to be larger than life.“Being always with us He desires to direct our steps away from evil and towards righteousness, godliness and peace.”As such we are easily tempted and desire to sit under them to learn how to attain what they have. Being around them makes us feel superior to others.
However, sitting among them is a grave error. We will only find ourselves guilty by association.
Ultimately we will only be hurting ourselves, others and God as we bring slander upon God and others.
Sitting among the scornful marks the beginning of a slow ruin. Like a frog in boiling water we will sit and relax until we find ourselves dead in sin and trespasses.
It is quite clear through the words of the Psalmist, that we must pay careful attention to where we walk, stand and sit.
Conclusion – The Way Everlasting
God cares about you. He is also with you at all times and in all places. Being always with us He desires to direct our steps away from evil and towards righteousness, godliness and peace. (Matt. 28:20 KJV, Prov. 16:9 KJV) He has saved us and erased our criminal record.
Yet, just like the earthly parent who sees their child bringing harm to themselves by associating with the wrong crowd, it saddens God to see us associate with evil.
When we do this we return to the places and people that He sacrificed everything to bring us out of. (Rom. 5:8 KJV)
God also lives in us. (1 Cor. 3:16 KJV) As such, this gives us all the more reason to never return to our old ways and to the corrupt people who formerly furnished our lives.
In all our comings and goings may we follow after God. May we be blessed by walking, standing and sitting with Him and His people.
If there be any wicked way in us, let us cry out to Him to lead us in the way everlasting. (Ps. 139:24) Amen.