Theme: How We Treat and Regard Others
In this week’s lessons we look at the six characteristics David gives to describe someone of whom God approves.
Scripture: Psalm 15:1-5
3. His conduct. The third couplet is almost also a parallel to the second, for there is much in common between speaking the truth and not slandering another in couplet two, and doing a neighbor no wrong and casting no slur on him in couplet three. But there is a difference too, and the difference seems to be that in this parallelism the idea moves beyond mere words to actions. This is clear in the first half: “Who does his neighbor no wrong.” It is probably also what is meant in part two, for although casting a slur usually suggests verbal abuse to us, a slur can also be cast—perhaps more often is cast—by how we actually treat another person.
The question is: Do you treat other people with respect, especially those who have a less important position in life than you do? Or do you snub them? Do you talk down to them? Are you mean? These verses tell us that all such things displease God and are a barrier to fellowship with him.
4. His values. The fourth couplet, like the third, is also dealing with our responses to other people. But here the idea is not so much how we treat them but how we regard them. It has to do with values. I would express it by asking, who are your models? Who do you look up to? Whose actions and character do you find offensive?
Here is one of the saddest things about today’s younger generation. A few years ago a government commission in Canada studied the characteristics of today’s young people, and one of the things they discovered is that the youth of today have no heroes. This is hard for most older people to appreciate, for we did and do have heroes. There are people we have looked up to and have tried to be like. But the youth of today generally have no heroes, no models. Without heroes they tend just to drift along.
But there is one thing worse than having no models, and that is having the wrong ones. And I suspect that, in spite of the Canadian study, many young people are actually drifting in this direction now. They admire the rock singer who has an abominable lifestyle but is nevertheless rich and famous. They admire the crack dealer who prances around infancy clothes and sports gold jewelry. And the upright people? People who work hard for a living? Fathers who provide for their families? Mothers who are faithful in caring for and raising their children? People who sacrifice for others? The young couldn’t care less about such people, and many older people don’t think much of them either. One social critic says, “We have reached a point where people would rather be envied than admired.”
Not so the righteous! We are told in the psalm that those God approves “despise a vile man but honor those who fear the Lord.”
How is the third couplet different from the second?
What does the fourth couplet seem to be dealing with?
Reflection: What characteristics mark the current heroes and role models of the culture today? How is that impacting society? What traits should Christians admire and seek to practice?