Last week we learned from Psalm 15:2 that we're in a constant conversation with our own heart. In these "heart-to-heart" moments, we have the ability to speak truth or tell lies to our souls that will shape the way we live.
Speaking truth is internal, but it has significant external consequences. Who can dwell on God's holy hill? The one "who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend." (Psalm 15:3)
Slander and reproach are similar words; reproach is rooted in a Hebrew verb that means "to strip." What does slander and reproach do? It damages, or strips, a person of their good reputation.
The Psalmist is describing a godly person who would never say anything that might hurt another person's reputation - friend or neighbor. I think this is a helpful distinction, because it's easy to speak highly of those who make our life enjoyable, and easy to speak negatively of those who make life difficult.
Think about it: no act of selfishness; no moment of impatience and irritation; no lashing out with unkind words; no moment of bitter judgment; no pushing themselves to the center of attention; no closing their eyes to the need of their neighbor because they're too busy taking care of their own desires.
It's hard for me to read this passage without feeling discouraged. Not only do I struggle to love my enemies, but I struggle to love those I say I love!
It's not a bad thing to feel discouraged over and over again by this Psalm. You can't let that discouragement define you, but in many ways, that feeling is the convicting grace of the Holy Spirit. God has set a standard, and you and I don't have a chance of reaching it.
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Not us! If we're honest, we make pretty poor friends. But the Father sent His Son to make us His friend. And He also sent His Spirit to enable us to become better friends, right here, right now.
Paul David Tripp
- Why can gossip and slander be so enticing?
- Why is gossip so dangerous?
- Why is it easy to speak praise of someone who makes life comfortable?
- Are you quick to turn on a friend if they make your life difficult?
- How did Jesus model friendship on earth?