You can tell when someone decides to “change their ways.” For a lot of us, it happens every first of the year. We make resolutions to do better with our health and attitude. This is the year we’ll pursue that goal that’s been lurking in our minds.
In a way, that’s how I read Psalm 101 today.
It’s considered one of the royal psalms. The occasion is some sort of beginning for the king–a charter, of sorts. The king is declaring how he intends to rule his kingdom. As a result, he identifies several things he will do.
He will sing and study. He will walk and watch what he watches. The work of those who fall away, he will hate and will know nothing evil. Interestingly enough, he will destroy those who slander a neighbor and will not tolerate arrogant people. Finally, he’ll look on with favor those who are righteous and destroy wicked. I assume that means wicked people?
That’s pretty intense.
It makes you wonder how long he went before some of it fell through. But the point is, as he sets out, the king has his mind set on what his reign will look like.
You and I are children of the Most High God, but we don’t wear crowns or carry scepters with us. We may never have to worry about running a kingdom. We will, though, need to consider how to live our lives. What kind of family will we raise? How will we pursue our life’s purpose? What will our church’s ministry be? Those kinds of decisions need as much enthusiasm and concern as the king of Psalm 101 gave his reign.
The term Methodist was given to John Wesley and those that joined him. It wasn’t a compliment, mind you. The popular understanding we’re told is that “Methodist” equated a methodical routine. That’s how we justify so many meetings at church today! But the name goes deeper than that.
It stems from the idea that anyone can practice holiness. Understand that not everyone has always believed that. There are some areas of thought and practice that only the elite can understand. Holiness is one of those areas. This perspective suggests that great wisdom and intellect are required to be holy. As a result, only a few people can actually do it.
But a methodist perspective believes anyone can pursue holiness. Faith is a gift from God. As such, anyone can commune with God. Don’t take for granted how powerful that idea is. Now, there are practices, let’s call them methods, that can help you live holy. And that’s why we talk about them so much. Think of prayer, worship, Bible study as methods of growing in holiness.
Psalm 101 is a king’s plan that would dictate the kind of king he would be. You and I do well to plan out our walk with God as well. What practices do we need to develop or strengthen to live faithful to Christ? What do we need to stop doing to live in obedience?
Anyone can honor God, but holiness doesn’t happen by chance. Most times, you need a real plan.