Four years ago, as a relatively new blogger, I wrote this. The verses outlined in this short blog are the verses that inspired the title of my blog. I still cling to those verses and keep them in mind constantly in my role as a worship pastor. I also believe firmly that these verses apply not only to what I do within the four walls of the local church, but also to everything that I do in life. Far too often I fall short, but the beauty of God’s grace and mercy is that when I repent, I am given 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or however many chances it takes to get it right.
In my personal Bible study a few days ago, I read Psalm 15. I’ve read through the Bible multiple times over the past few years, but this passage came roaring to life a few days ago. I found direct correlation between the words of this passage to the words of Psalm 24:3-5. Take a look.
The psalmist starts with a question. God, who can live in Your house? The next four verses give us a clearer picture. Let’s break it down for a few minutes.
The ESV says is this way.
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks the truth in his heart;
To put it quite simply, verse 2 says that the first two qualifications are righteousness and honesty. As Christians we understand that our own righteousness is the equivalent of filthy rags before God. However, when covered by the blood of Jesus, we are clothed in His righteousness.
The psalmist also speaks of telling the truth. We live in a world where honesty is a rare commodity to be found. Politicians lie to get votes (both sides do it). Employees lie to employers to avoid trouble or gain a promotion. Kids lie to their parents and parents lie to their kids. Dishonesty is everywhere. Everywhere that is except in the presence of God. We can not come into God’s presence with lies on our lips.
who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up reproach against his friend;
Next we find out what is expected of us in our relationships with others. Slander is not allowed. Grudges aren’t to be held. We are not to seek revenge or retribution from our neighbors.
Ouch. Slander and revenge have become the norm today. It’s hard to find someone who speaks well of others. Then again, it’s much more juicy to hear bad things about someone, even when it isn’t true. We are a people that love to gossip. We are also a people that would much rather hear and assume the bad about people than believe and hope for the best. If we choose to spread false information about others, that becomes a hindrance to us entering into God’s presence.
in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change.
The beginning of the verse is pretty easy to figure out. The person who wants to ascend into God’s house will despise evil and honor righteousness. It’s the last part of that verse that is a bit tougher to swallow. The person who wants to be in God’s presence ‘swears to his own hurt and does not change.’ What does that even mean?
It actually goes back to verse 2 that talks about honesty. This takes honesty a step farther and includes being honest even when it is to your own detriment. It’s hard to be honest when you know that your honesty will have a negative outcome for you. That said, it is a character trait that we must work on as believers if we want to experience His presence.
who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
The final verse of this chapter addresses how we handle money. It first addresses the loaning of money at interest. This is an issue that we see addressed often in scripture. Apparently, there was a constant problem among the Israelites that involved taking advantage of the poor by loaning money at high interest rates. By reading scripture we know that God is very concerned for the poor so it should come as no surprise that He does not want us to exploit those who are less fortunate than us.
Lastly, he addresses taking bribes. This should be a no brainer, but as humans, we all love easy access to money. On the surface, taking a bribe is easy money. What we have to realize is that we are making money at someone else’s expense. It is neither ethical or moral to do so.
Treating people right with your finances is another factor in being able to truly enter into God’s presence.
As a worship pastor, not only do I want to effectively lead our church into His presence through song, I want to make sure that I am spending time daily in His presence. If I am doing any of these things listed in Psalm 15, they become road blocks for me as I try to get there. I have to make sure that I am doing what’s right if I expect to be able to lead people there.
We should all desire that daily time with God. When we find ourselves not being able to get there, we need to evaluate honestly so that we can make any corrections in our lives that we need to. God wants us all to spend time with him, but sin can not stand before Him.
This is not meant to be a word of condemnation, but rather a word to encourage each of us to make sure that we are not doing anything that would hinder us from experiencing the fulness of His presence.