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Quit Hanging Out at Sin Saloon

I was standing at the nurse’s station and some of the nurses and other staff members, mostly women, were simply talking about this, that, or the other. The conversation then turned to a rather inappropriate nature. I was simply standing there, listening, not really commenting on anything but I was certainly laughing at the jokes, listening to the gossip, possibly nodding my head in agreement at the judgments placed on other people, and even when the not-so-godly talk came in to the picture, I was still present. After a few minutes, I got this weird and uncomfortable feeling so I stepped away to go check on the patients. I don’t recall why I would have felt this way. I think I just thought that certain things should not be talked about in public so I chose not to listen anymore and walked away.

Friends, I am a sinner. I am imperfect. I mess up. My ears hear things and my eyes see things that don’t always glorify God, but I am so grateful for His grace, every moment and every day. It is only by his perfect grace that I live and breathe. I admit that I fall prey to the world’s view of things, and this includes simple talk, maybe some gossip or making fun, among other sinners. It happens with all of us. I bet it was the Holy Spirit nudging me to step away from that nurse’s station that day, reminding me that my ears didn’t need to hear any of that sort of talk any longer.

Last year, I entered a Biblical Studies Program, wanting to learn how to be a better disciple and to come to know God in a more personal and intimate manner through his Word. One of the passages we studied was Psalm 1. After breaking this down, I was floored. This passage brought my mind immediately back to that day at the nurse’s station, because this was a perfect example of what God was saying here.

Psalm 1:1-3 reads, “How blessed is the man (or woman, emphasis mine) who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”

Read this passage again. God wants you and I to be blessed, which is defined as “the happy condition of those who revere the Lord and those who do his will, who put their trust in him.” I’ve emphasized some key words that totally stood out to me. There are three different positions or postures here: walk, stand, and sit. The term walk here is to “order his life according to.” Counsel is “deliberations or advice.” Stand is to “station oneself.” Sinners, if you don’t know, are described here as “those for whom evil is habitual, for whom wickedness is a way of life.” Sit is to “settle oneself.” Scoffers are “those who ridicule God and defiantly reject his law” (NASB).

As I reflect back on that day at the nurse’s station and many other countless days I am sure, I admit I didn’t always revere or have deep respect for the Lord, nor was I doing his will. Yes, I was standing there at the station but I could have very easily been sitting with them. Standing is a position, while settle is accepting or agreeing upon the subject at hand. They may seem different but I think the way I was laughing along with the others, nodding my head in agreement, I was settling myself to be in agreement of the things they were saying. Why did I only turn away when the conversation got gross and uncomfortable? Why didn’t I get uncomfortable with the gossip or the judgments passed on of those they were talking about? Why didn’t I say something or walk away at the very beginning?

Notice how the Bible describes sinners above. Sinners are “those for whom evil is habitual, for whom wickedness is a way of life.” Was I not going against the will of God the moment gossip or scoffing came in to play? That day I was studying this passage, my heart was pierced to the core. My mind went over and over times or occasions in my life that I have been that wicked scoffer. Perhaps you have found yourself in this place too? The most fabulous thing is we don’t have to stay the wicked scoffer. Once we dive into God’s grace and follow his Word and his Will, we can be that “blessed” man (woman) he mentions in verse 1.

God equips us and gives us ways to get out of these walk-stand-sit situations. Those places when we are sitting around the table, even with our godly friends, when conversation seems innocent enough but it doesn’t necessarily glorify God either, does it? God goes on to tell us that our delight is found in his law, which is the Word of God. We can delight in it day and night, and when we do, we are “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1: 2-3). This is great news! The more we delight and plant ourselves in the Lord and in his Word, we will naturally yield its fruit in its season. What fruit?

The fruit of what we let God write on our hearts, the fruit of the Spirit that lives in us is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You can find these wonderful attributes in Galatians 5:22-23. What season? In the seasons when we find ourselves in the gossip circle, when we’re standing at the water cooler at work, when we are standing around with the other moms at the school, when we hear others or even find ourselves mocking others, making fun or what we called in the ’80s “ranking on” somebody, when we realize the conversation is going a way that isn’t good for our heart and soul, or the jokes just get too dirty or nasty. The Spirit will either softly nudge you on the shoulder or flick you on the ear. In my case that day, it felt like a flick on the ear as I seemed to be moved to action in a hurry.

And guess what? Our leaves won’t wither away because we are always near streams of water, getting fed by Jesus and the Word of God. Other streams of water make look like our godly friends holding us accountable. Now, there will be times when the world around us will wither our leaves when we’re not looking, causing them to get a little lighter green or tan. We are human, after all, we are sinners, and sometimes our flesh tries to get the best of us, but they will never wither away. Why? Because we have a choice. Are we gonna stay in the situation and wither away or are we gonna flourish and prosper near the streams of water? Remember, even in the moments you need to step away, when you feel alone, Jesus is right there with ya! He is right there next to you, on the bank of the streaming water, holding your hand, and friend, HE delights in you in greater ways you can never understand!

I want to live a life building others up and to hope to grow a pair and say something the next time I am this situation. I want to be brave and say, “This ain’t you, girl (or man, cuz you know they do it too)! This kinda talk isn’t who you are.” I want to be able to stand up for good. How about you?

Just for kicks, here’s the MSG paraphrase of Psalm 1:1-3:

“How well God must like you–you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon, you don’t slink along Dead-End Road, you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College. Instead you thrill to God’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night. You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.”

Chew on that, sweet Sisters.

Hugging you so tight,