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Walk Circumspectly

Pastor Dennis Smith

Psalm 69 is attributed to King David. In this psalm, he laments that he is being persecuted by his enemies, and he complains that the persecution is because of his stand for the Lord (v. 7). He seems to indicate that he has even been forced unjustly into making some sort of financial restitution by his enemies (see the end of v. 4).

Then he makes an interesting request of the Lord in verses five and six:

O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee. Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.

First of all, David acknowledges that the request he is about to make is not on his own behalf; he acknowledges that he is not free of sin and guilt. Rather, he is concerned that other, faithful followers of God might suffer embarrassment or ridicule because of him and his disrepute. To be “confounded” here means to be disgraced or humiliated.

Let’s face it, we have probably all seen that the world tends to lump all Christians together when a believer fails in some moral or ethical matter. In those situations, people might say something like, “If that’s the way a Christian acts, then I don’t want to be one.” Now, it’s bad enough to be unjustly criticized or judged, but it’s even worse to have earned the scorn!

The Apostle Paul was sensitive to this. In Romans 12:16 he said, “Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” He was saying that disciples of Christ need to be thinking about and paying attention to doing things in a way that all men would have to acknowledge as being good and honorable. In Ephesians 5:12 he admonished, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” Walking circumspectly means to walk carefully and purposefully. Think of a tightrope walker carefully and deliberately placing one foot in front of the other.

We all do well to walk circumspectly in the world and to provide things honest in the sight of all, if for no other reason than to avoid discrediting our God and his church. Just as the Apostle saw himself as an ambassador or representative of Christ to the world, so should we.

Some years ago, former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw said of a young Ben Roethlisberger, “He has to realize who he is” (as the face of a storied NFL franchise). Roethlisberger at the time had a public image problem because of some questionable personal choices. As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have to realize who we are in him. Someone has said that your life may be the only Gospel some people will ever read. What message are you sending?

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