I grew up thinking I shouldn’t associate with people who were not Christians. (My definition of a ‘Christian’ was someone who regularly attended church and recited a prayer with an adult when they were younger which got them a get-out-of-hell-free card indefinitely). And people who were not Christians also happened to be who I thought the Bible was referring to when it mentioned “sinners”, the “world” and anyone Jesus pointed fingers at, really.
I’m still learning to approach Scripture with fresh eyes and no pre-conceived notions. Today, this verse jumped out to me:
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.” 1:1-3
At first glance, I see this is a warning to stay away from Sinful Unchurched People and bury yourself in Bible studies and groups of other Christians who agree with you. But this doesn’t match up with the gospel, or the way I saw Jesus engage with people. Here’s what I think it’s saying instead:
–Seek godly wisdom. It is important to engage in a Christ-like community with other believers. Maybe that’s within a church, maybe it’s not. Be mindful of who and what influence you.
–Be intentional with your time around broken people and don’t mindlessly join in. There is definitely a time and a place to remove yourself from sinful people and develop appropriate boundaries. This is not a blanket-statement, but a reminder to use discernment.
–Study God’s word every day. It will ground you and guide you so that you can develop spiritual health and maturity and engage with people outside of your belief system.
What verse encouraged you today? Here’s some insight the Bible Project offers on how the book of Psalms is arranged.