Psalm 1

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the Day of Judgment nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous but the way of the wicked will perish.

The Bible promises a long, prosperous and healthy life for those who follow the ways of the Lord. There’s an intrinsic value in doing this from which even non-believers benefit. But believers tend to gravitate toward one of two extremes where God’s Law is concerned, and both are wrong.

The first is the legalist, who thinks that by being “righteous” he’s earning favor with God, and the second sees God’s grace as a license that relieves him of the consequences of his behavior no matter how sinful.

The Legalist misses out on the joy of his salvation, grinding through a life of “have-tos” and “don’ts”. He doesn’t enjoy the freedom purchased for him at the cross, his behavior constrained by a narrow set of rules he himself has devised, never realizing that he dwells in a prison of his own making.

His counterpart, we’ll call him the permissive, spends most of the time out of fellowship with God, not understanding that his un-confessed sins are a source of guilt that drives a wedge between the Lord and him.  This failure to acknowledge his behavior as sin and confess makes him fair game for an enemy who delights in tormenting him, and his life becomes an example to be avoided in the eyes of those around him.

One is focused only on what he must do to earn God’s favor, and the other only on what God should do for him. Neither understands that our behavior good or evil cannot affect God. Our sins only hurt us and those around us just as our good deeds only benefit us and them. (Job 35:6-8)

But our relationship with God is vastly enriched when we voluntarily act in a manner pleasing to Him, not out of an effort to earn a blessing we hope to get, but as a way of saying thanks for the blessings we’ve already received. And like everything else where the Lord’s concerned, we’re judged on motive not result. He doesn’t expect perfection; He’s just looking for an attitude of gratitude.

Prayer.  Lord, please help me express my gratitude for all you’ve done for me by living my life in a manner more pleasing to you.  Open my eyes to the opportunities to say thanks by the way I live and the things I do. Amen.