Happy indeed is the one
who follows not the counsel of the wicked;
nor lingers in the way of sinners
nor sits in the company of scorners,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord
and who ponders his law day and night.
She is like a tree that is planted
beside the flowing waters,
that yields its fruit in season
and whose leaves shall never fade;
and all that he does shall prosper.*
Nobody hangs out in the company of sinners, at least not ‘sinners’ as the psalmist imagines them. We can admit that we are all sinners, all fallen short of the glory of God. But the active, really-bad-stuff-doers are rarely our regular dinner companions. Maybe they should be.
But scorn? Is that really as bad as the real-bad-stuff (whatever you or I imagine that to be)? My mind stuck on that word this morning, probably partly because I had just read a blog post that included a bit of advice about gossip: don’t do it. (Shock and dismay! Reading facebook updates and blog posts before the Holy Scripture! Provdential, I call it.) I thought about the numerous ways in which I am complicit with scorners, even when I am not actively scornful.
I know I am guilty of this. As deeply as I want to be gentle and encouraging, I know that I am easily amused by a derisive remark. I find contemptible all sorts of things and situations, whether or not I say so. And I am dismissive, too dismissive, of that which I regard as unworthy of my notice. I do not just sit in the company of scorners–I should be numbered among them.
And it really is as bad, just as bad, as the content we give to the (really reprehensible) sinners. I miss things I should see and hear, I avoid that which deserves my attention, just because it doesn’t come in the package in which I expect to find it. All those things that are said to be ‘trite but…’ Never mind: I stopped listening at ‘trite’.
Half of me still protests: you’re not that bad; really this is not such a big deal; you’re making something out of nothing. That may be so, but only because too often I make nothing out of something. Or, worse, I make nobody out of somebody–somebody who deserves my attention, not because she’s pretty or intelligent, not because he’s clever or spiritually astute.
I saw this on facebook this morning and smiled. Shared it. Seeing Jesus behind the hat, playing the accordion, raising money to go to Africa, selling the Big Issue–done. But there are a whole lot more places I ought to see Jesus, and don’t: in the head teacher, the driver in front (or behind), the neighbor who shouted at me, the person who just said something I thought was obvious, obnoxious, silly, self-promoting.
Fortunately, Jesus lingered in the way of sinners, and did not shun the company of scorners (though they seem not to have sought his company much)–even this one.
*Yes, I played with the translation a bit: ‘the man’ became ‘one’; the first ‘he’ became ‘she’, and I left the last ‘he’ on purpose.