Yesterday’s Lord’s Day quote was Psalm 1. I’ve spent the last three years meditating on this Psalm and the ways I have trespassed it.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
Psalm 1:1 (NIV)
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;
Psalm 1:1 (ESV)
To scoff means to deride, sneer at, mock, ridicule, dismiss, laugh at, and belittle. Does this heart attitude match up with the gospel? Would we consider this a fruit of the Spirit? How often do we really see it used as a “technique” by Jesus or the Apostles?
If we mock the unbeliever or a fellow Christian, we are acting like the wicked, we are sitting in the seat of scoffers. Can a Christian who is saved by the blood of Jesus act in this way? Yes. It didn’t un–Christian me when I sat in the seat of the scoffers. But my words and attitude brought shame to the name of Christ. This sin grieves me deeply. Because I’m well acquainted with it, and because I constantly war against it, I spot it in others, and not rarely enough, find myself scoffing at them for it.
I wrote in Gospel Amnesia that I am concerned about this attitude in the Church. I’m troubled not only because of the witness before an increasingly secular culture, but because what this sin does to individual souls. If you scoff at a brother or sister in Christ then you have forgotten the gospel. If you scoff at an unbeliever, then you have forgotten the gospel. Our hearts are very good at justifying us. Under the cover of “speaking the truth in love,” “sound doctrine,” “fighting for the faith,” “rebuking a brother,” “playing Elijah to Baal of the world,” and so on, we have stumbled brethren, wounded tender consciences, and brought shame to the gospel we think we are “contending” for.
“You are what you worship” may have become a cliche but it is true. Paul says “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1). As someone who has so often fallen in this area I urge you to be careful whom you “follow” and “imitate.” When we imbibe too much from the well of scoffers (no matter under what cover they sell their wares) our souls will imitate.
When our hearts have been transformed by the gospel we remember who we were and could have been, but for the grace of God. Remembering softens our hearts. Softened hearts are strong, strong enough to be longsuffering with the unbeliever and the brethren. Softened hearts are not exacting. Softened hearts give room for the Holy Spirit to do his work in the lives of others. Softened hearts do not equal cowardice or impotence. A softened heart is a meek heart. And if we truly worship Jesus, we will not scoff at a meek heart. After all, our God was not ashamed to say that he is gentle and humble in heart (Matthew 11:29).