Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the man, who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers” (NIV).
The first verse of the first Psalm is an interesting sentence. The action words of walk, stand and sit indicates a sort of progression. This will parallel with wicked, sinners, mockers. Often we are able to identify the wicked and sinners readily, sometimes too readily. But mockers? Other bible translation offers scornful (NKJV), and scoffers (NRSV) as an alternative to mockers.
Many of us, as part of our job, have to identify problems in order to correct them. We develop a ‘problem’ sensor in our eyes, noses, and minds. This critical attitude is something necessary if we want to improve the quality of our work and our lives.
Unfortunately, all of us have a tendency to expand the definition of problems to include anything that does not correspond to our way of thinking. Somewhere along the way we become critical of the way others do things, especially if the way they do it is different from the way we would want to or normally do things. Then our tongues became involved and we start to criticize what we perceive is ‘wrong.’ There is nothing wrong with criticism as long as it is warranted and constructive. It is however a thin line between a critic and a mocker.
It is so easy to cross the line from a critic to a mocker, scorner or scoffer. It is so easy to criticize anything without knowing all the facts. There are so many things wrong with the world that there is never a lack of subject to criticize, or to mock. Mocking is criticism from a superior attitude with the aim to derogate or belittle. We look at all the wrongs in our country, our workplace, our churches, and our family and we offer our opinions on how to make things right. Our opinions are often unwarranted, non-constructive and often with a little flavour of ‘speculation’ thrown in to make it sound wise and good. It feels good doing it and sometimes we actually believe it ourselves as being true. We have to be careful that we are not sitting in the seats of mockers.
Mocking, scorning and scoffing are attitudes of the heart. And these attitudes are rooted in wickedness and sinfulness. These attitudes are fueled by our insecurity, jealousy, anger, and fear. We use our mocking, scorning and scoffing to put down others so that we feel more superior. We tear down others so that others can see how superior or better we are. Unfortunately mocking, scorning and scoffing poison our souls, and warp our spiritual formation. It will lead to disdain and bitterness.
Let us guard our hearts from the temptation of mocking, scorning and scoffing because we want to keep our hearts clean as it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23).