November 23

Psalm 119:37

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways (Psalm 119:37).

Last month, as I was sitting in the lobby at Clarkes waiting as my tires were being changed, I saw Judge Judy on TV.  In a way, it is really a rather remarkable show, in that it has apparently kept an audience for as long as it has, and therefore stands as a rather stark (even if hardly unique) testimony of the vanity of the world in which we live.

The Christian life is not simply about turning away from sin.  It is that, of course, for it is impossible to love God and to make peace with sin.  Yet the psalmist here asks the Lord to turn his heart not from sin, but from worthless things.  The difference is important. 

And what is a worthless thing?  The psalmist implies: anything that does not lead to life in His ways.  The question “is it sinful?” is an important question, no doubt.  But there are better ones, ones we ask increasingly as we grow in Christ.  “Is it helpful?”  “Does this encourage or deaden my love for God and neighbor?”  “Does this foster in me a thankful heart?”  “Does it move me to prayer, or to practical generosity?”  The answers to these kinds of questions help us discern whether we are looking upon things of God, or worthless things. 

The trade-off is worth it.  Hear the psalmist again: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”  The implication is that looking upon worthless things robs us of life.  And that by forsaking our gaze upon the worthless, we finds life in God.

If you are finding your life devoid of life, perhaps this is a place prayerfully to press in.  What are the worthless things from which your eyes need to turn?