Reading through the Bible together
I enjoy being told good things about myself—whether an affirmation about a class I just taught, an event I’ve helped out with, or some new clothes I’m wearing.. However, this psalm reminds me that flattery is seductive, and can be untrue and corrupting. I do think that we should affirm each other—the world is too full of those who discourage. But sometimes our mutual affirmations keep us from doing the good in the world that God has called us to do.
Psalm 12 contrasts flattery with working to help the poor and needy. I have sometimes found that when I am convicted of my need to go further for God and have an overwhelming sense of guilt at my own materialistic concerns or selfishness. That’s when my fellow Christians make me feel better.
While there is such a thing as overpowering and false guilt on the one hand, could it be that we sometimes affirm each other for the superficial and feel content, rather than being outraged at the exploitation of the poor around us?
Might God be pushing me to go beyond my own self-satisfaction to work for justice, sacrificing some of my time and even my own comforts to do so?
Lisa Clark Diller
Chair, Dept. of History and Political Studies
Southern Adventist University