From the Mouth of an Ex-Scoffer

I’ve got two very important, often overlooked words for you today: godly community. It’s a shame this concept is overlooked so frequently because once experienced, it’s something no believer can live without. But the trick is understanding what exactly “godly community” is. With the fall semester right around the bend for college/high school students, this is one of the most important lessons to be learned (speaking from experience here!). And honestly, for those of us who are in the workforce, it’s something we too are in desperate need of.

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;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

I’m pretty sure this is one of the first portions I memorized growing up. It was right up there with Psalm 23 and John 3:16. Despite having these words etched into my skull, I was well into my 20’s before they became engraved in my heart. I never understood what they meant. They sounded too archaic to decipher and so not worth my time. But I’m thankful for His grace and patience with me as I so foolishly did exactly the opposite of what verse 1 advises. Over and over again.

Reread those verses. But don’t just read over them like the first time (if you even read them – because honestly, sometimes we just skip over the Bible references, don’t we?). Don’t just half read them, half say them from memory. Look at the words, attempt to understand what you’re reading. Don’t let the familiarity of these verses keep your heart from being pierced by them. Oh and let me tell you, when I finally understood these verses my heart WAS pierced. Because I realized Wisdom was looking me right in the face, calling to my hardened heart, beckoning me to follow (Proverbs 1:20-33). But in my foolishness, in my stubbornness, I choose the path of folly. So friends, take a moment to read these verses intentionally, with a focused mind. And only then, continue reading this post.

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;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

Let me translate what the psalmist is saying here:

Do not seek counsel from people who are not living for the Lord. It’s absolute foolishness if I, a believer and FOLLOWER (not “fan”) of Jesus Christ, seeks advice on how to live my life from someone who does not define themselves as I do. If I am seeking to please the Lord with my every action and word, it is utter foolishness to be counseled by someone who does not have the same goal in life. And say you’re seeking counsel from someone who does define themselves as a “Christian” – if they fail to recognize that their purpose in this life is to know the Lord more and make Him known, then they too do not make for wise counsel.

Friends, take heed. This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way. Time and time again. When in need of counsel, look to those who are living their lives for the Lord. They will direct you to choose the options that are most pleasing to Him first and foremost. And that is what we need when we are faced with difficult situations and tough decisions – someone who will remind us to seek the Lord’s perspective on things before trying to do what’s best for ourselves based on our limited human knowledge.

We’re all sinners. We know that. The Bible tells us that ALL have fallen short (Romans 3:23). So sometimes the next part of verse 1 can be kind of confusing and seemingly contradictory: “nor stands in the way of sinners.” If we’re taking things literally and basing everything on this one verse, then yes, it would seem that God would prefer each of us to remain isolated from one another in our sinfulness (the exact opposite of “community”). Or some might even interpret this verse to mean we shouldn’t reach out to the “big-time” sinners out there (murderers, rapists, adulterers, etc.; our words, not God’s). But that’s not what the psalmist is saying here.

Who do we surround ourselves with? What kind of people do we choose to hang out with? When we’re with our friends, are we being an influence or are we being influencedThis is HUGE, y’all. We should hang out with people who don’t know the Lord, yes! But we must remember to be the light in their world. We should be influencing them with our graciousness, our patience, our servanthood, our Christ-like love. We should not be influenced by whatever worldly acts or behaviors they might be engaged in. I know this may come off harsh, but if you cannot resist temptation while around certain people, then you need to make some changes. Whether it means you limit your exposure to them or find a new circle of friends, you, as a child of God, must make the decision to walk the path of wisdom. We all want to be a light to our friends so that they might come to know the Lord. This is a good and God-pleasing desire we have! But we must be careful in how we execute it. If we’re the ones being influenced, then perhaps it’s time for some changes.

Do not surround yourself with people who mock our God. That’s what the next part is all about: nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” We don’t use the word “scoffer” much these days, but it essentially refers to a person who mocks or ridicules with contempt. Friends, if you are a FOLLOWER of Jesus, it should break your heart to hear others speak of Him in such a way! It should not be something you can easily brush away. It should physically hurt your heart to hear mockery from the lips of the very ones whom Jesus came to save. In light of that, how could we surround ourselves with such people? Yes, we will encounter people like this throughout our lives. And hopefully we will be able to show them Truth, hopefully we will be able to bring them to the knowledge of the One who died for them. But if we silently tolerate such talk because we care more for our friendships, we have a serious problem. 

When we are in such an environment on a regular basis, we are at risk for being influenced rather than being an influence. Scoffers doubt God. Scoffers hate God. And when we are constantly hearing the words of scoffers, we run the risk of allowing doubt to enter our minds. In the worst case scenario, we run the risk of allowing hatred, bitterness, and anger towards God to enter our hearts.

My heart is pained even as I write this because as I finished up high school and entered college, I did the exact opposite of what Psalm 1:1 states. I sought ungodly counsel – more times than I can remember. And each time, as I submitted to the foolishness of man, I saw my life fall to rubble around me. My plans turned to dust, my heart was left in pieces, my view and understanding of life was so distorted, it took years to repair. I placed my friendships above everything else, including God. I was influenced by the world. Those were honestly the darkest days of my life, and ironically, the most lonely too. I joined hands with my “friends” and walked into sin time and time again. Because after a while, it wasn’t sin anymore – it was just my life. I failed to be an influence, I failed to be a light. Not only did I fail, but I dived head first into the darkness surrounding me. Friends, it breaks my heart to say this, but I scoffed right along with my scoffer-friends. And in doing so, doubt and anger towards God entered my heart. I didn’t have the boldness to stand up for my Jesus. I simply let the mockery continue around me. Sometimes, I even laughed right along with them. In surrounding myself with scoffers, I became a scoffer too.

I can honestly say I wasn’t a true FOLLOWER of Jesus back then. I was nothing more than a fan – if even that. But the Lord was so gracious, so kind, so forgiving, so patient with me and for that I’m thankful. It took me a long time to understand the lessons of Psalm 1:1 but I pray it would not be the same for you! Don’t learn things the hard way when you can learn them the wise way!

For those of you getting ready to start school again: bind these words to your heart. Most of all, OBEY. Don’t let it slide “just this once” because once will never be enough. Don’t fall into pride and believe none of this could ever touch you – because it can and it will (speaking from experience). In place of all the things the psalmist encourages us to refrain from, do this: delight in the Word, delight in the Lord, and study His Word constantly. If you free yourself from all the things mentioned in Psalm 1:1, you will have all the time to live out Psalm 1:2!

I’ve tasted the world and I’ve tasted the goodness of our Lord. And I can confidently say with complete assurance that the latter is far sweeter, far more satisfying, far longer lasting! Choose the better portion. Turn from the path of folly and walk along the path of wisdom. Surround yourself with godly community, friends. It is the wisest decision you can make. Not only that, it will be the most joyful decision of your life. Because living out Psalm 1:2 in community is uniquely refreshing, incredibly encouraging and challenging, and so soul-satisfying!

but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 

Psalm 1:2

2 thoughts on “From the Mouth of an Ex-Scoffer

  1. This is a great reminder to us all! It makes us think about who we get closest to… Who influences us… Those closest to us… Thank you!😊

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