Our study of Psalms is underway. In our first week, we looked at Psalms 1. This coming Sunday we will study Psalms 23:1-6. For those who would like more information on Life Groups, our current study, or additional resources for our study of Psalms, our church’s website has a number of links with useful information.
Two Paths by John Peavy
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish. – Psalms 1:6
In Psalms 1, we find a description of two life paths. It is easy to find comparisons to the poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken. Unlike the poem, however, the Psalmist answers the question of where the other path leads and the life we would have experienced had we chosen the other way. This also called to mind a lesson from Dale Carnegie. Mr. Carnegie taught that everyone has a bucket and two cents or pennies. One penny is bright and shiny. The other is dull, worn, and dirty. In our interaction with other people, we place one of those pennies in their buckets. The choice is ours as to which penny we place into their bucket – the good one or the bad one.
As I considered these things, I realized that they all held a truth that needed to be considered in how we, especially as Christians, treat others. This led to an image in my mind of the two paths described in Psalms that ran side by side. One, the right path, was narrow and straight. It went up toward God and Heaven. Beside it, the wrong path, which was wide and crooked, angled downward toward judgement and Hell. As we traveled along our path, we would encounter others. With each encounter, we were given a choice between the two paths.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14
As I considered further, for those on the right path, there were two choices to be made toward those on the path with us. We could walk with them or we could step off the path, with the possibility that we would drag the other person with us, onto the other path. If we were on the high path and the other person was on the other pass, our encounters offered similar options. We had the choice to join them on the lower path, either because we liked the look of it or because we allowed them to drag us down with them. The second option for us in our encounter with those on the wrong path, as we are commanded, is to reach out to them so that we might bring them up onto the right path. In considering the two paths and how that applies in our lives, I realized that as we each went further along the two paths, one going up and the other down, the greater the distance we must reach across to help the other up. This meant that we would eventually reach a point that we no longer had the ability to reach them on our own.
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. – Galatians 6:1
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. – 2 Timothy 2:24-26
I also tried to imagine a means by which someone on the wrong path would change direction and thereby step onto the right path. While this may be possible if we stumble and quickly repent of our misstep, I knew that the wrong path would quickly take us down to a point that we might not be able return without the intervention of someone on the right path.
But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. – 1 Corinthians 8:9
As the mental images played out, I saw another reality as well. Because the higher path is straight and narrow, it was entirely possible for me, as I knelt down in the path to reach those on the wrong path, to become a stumbling block for others on the right path. In my good intentions, I could prevent others from moving forward or even stumble onto the wrong path. The lesson was that I needed to be aware of, and move in concert with, the others on the path with me. By including them and their walk in my considerations, I could still help others, and, more importantly, gain the help I needed from my fellow travelers by having them serve as my anchor and hold me to the right path.
I would like to close by thanking those who have held on to me in midst of my own walk. There are many who have been there to pull me from the wrong path and to hold me tight when I stretched out to help others. Your prayers, encouragement, challenges, and wisdom have aided me more than any of us can know this side of glory. You are often in my thoughts and prayers. Your examples humble me and lead me still. God bless each and every one of you.
Things to Know: