A Working Knowledge of God
Monday, April 20, 2015
Psalm 15:1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
Has this ever happened to you? I hope so, because otherwise I will feel really odd.
At least once a week I hop in my car at the office around the lunch hour, and start driving out of the parking lot while I ask myself, “Where should I go for lunch?” When I get to the exit onto the street I can go either left or right depending on the answer to the questions. Invariably I turn right without answering the question, and I keep driving, still not knowing where I am going. At every intersection I have options, but I pass each one by because I still haven’t answered the question. Finally I will pull into an eating establishment and just settle for whatever is there, because I didn’t make a decision about my destination before starting to move.
Pretty silly, right? Come on. You’ve done that, haven’t you? Please say you have.
Well, it’s pretty foolish to start moving without having a destination in mind. Today’s journey in Psalm 15 begins with a question that is based on a pre-determined destination. King David knows that he wants to dwell in the presence of God, so the question he asks is one which will help him to understand how to arrive at the preferred destination.
David’s destination of choice involves two types of trips – short rest stops, called sojourns, and long stays called dwelling. Whether he is on a short stop over to be refreshed or whether he needs an extended stay, David wants to make sure that he is welcome to stop in. I want to know the same thing. What is required of the person who wants to be assured that they are dwelling in the presence of Almighty God?
As I travel through the rest of the Psalm, I discover that the answers to David’s questions remind me of one of the spiritual principles I preached on yesterday in church – Trustworthy followers of Jesus have a working knowledge of the truth. It is so important for us to grasp this principle completely. Head knowledge of God, and intellectual assent to God’s truth is not faith. It is only when the knowledge of God and His Word is put into action in our lives that faith is validated. This is the whole premise of the New Testament book of James.
Psalm 15 describes for us what a working knowledge of God looks like:
- He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;
- He who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
- in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD;
- He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
- He who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
Okay, time for another question. Do all of these things describe our lives right now? If not, what are we going to do about it? How will we start to show a better working knowledge of God? The promise for those who do is powerful – He who does these things shall never be moved.
Sometimes reading a little different version of the verses is helpful. Here’s what The Message says.
GOD, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list? “Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. “Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. “Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. “You’ll never get blacklisted if you live like this.”
Now remember, these things don’t earn your salvation. But without them being a visible part of our lives, how will the world ever know that we have a working knowledge of God?
Or an even more profound question might be, without these principles at work in our lives, how do we know in our hearts that we are dwelling in the presence of God?