A New Definition of Wicked

23 Search me, O God, 
and know my heart: 
try me, and know my thoughts:

24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, 
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV)

There are more than a few hymns and choruses written around these two short verses. Many can quote them and know they’re found in the Psalms even if they aren’t sure the exact reference. But sometimes I wonder if Christians read these verses too passively.

I like to pray the Psalms, often rewording them as I read to make them personal. This one needs very little transcribing, “Search me, Lord, You know my heart; test me, Father, You know my thoughts; Look deep within and see if there is any wickedness in me, and lead me according to Your way, the way that leads to eternal life.”

But as I looked at these verses this morning, I wondered, “Do I really want my Creator to test me?”

I’ve read about those tests, and I’m afraid I’d fail! Job’s test . . . Peter’s test . . . Paul’s test. None of those seem like much fun. Have you heard the old saying, “Be careful what you pray for.”?

And verse twenty four brings it all together, “see if there be any wicked way in me.” Most of us who’ve been good rule followers all of our lives, don’t really relate to the “wicked” part of that verse. We’ve been taught about wicked. We’ve been avoiding wicked since we were old enough to understand what it means.

But if Isaiah is right, and I always assume he is, and all of my righteousness looks like dirty rags to God, then perhaps I need to take a new look at wickedness. The NIV translates that word offensive, and the NASB says hurtful. The Hebrew lexicon describes the word the KJV uses for wicked as something that causes pain.

No matter which definition we use, most of us work hard at not being offensive or hurtful. We truly try to live in such a way we don’t cause anyone pain. So again, it becomes easy to pray these words and move on.

But as we get closer to Good Friday, it might do us well to ask if we’ve caused our Heavenly Father any pain. Have I been offensive to the One who gave me life? Compared to humans, I’m definitely not wicked, but compared to the perfection of Christ . . .

Yeah . . . me too . . .

I’ve discovered I cannot appreciate the sacrifice Christ made on my behalf until I realize I wasn’t worth dying for. God didn’t show me this to make me feel shame or beat myself up. He knew It’s only when I begin to see the “wicked way in me” the blood of Jesus can truly make me clean and set me free! It’s only through the discovery of what’s wicked that we can turn from it and set our feet firmly on the path of Christ, the path of everlasting life.

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