Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? – Ps 15:1 KJV
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The Psalmist in today’s scripture asks a question from the Lord. It is one of those questions that reveals the spiritual angle of some of the activities that we have come to take for granted as Christians. On each service day, Christians gather in locations designated as the house of the Lord to supposedly worship the Lord in compliance with his expressed desire to be worshipped. This definitely is not a new development as several aspects of the bible indicate that people have been gathering like that to worship God right from the Old testament to the New Testament.
The Psalmist in today’s scripture however reveals that not all who physically gather in that location can be deemed to be recognised to have been there to worship by the Almighty God. Amongst all those who are capable of physically going to the place of worship or who are in the place of worship, the Psalmist ask the question, “who shall abide in thy tabernacle or who shall dwell in your holy place.
Two words stand out in that question and they are “abide” and “dwell”. To abide will be to accept or act in accordance with a rule while to dwell will mean to live in something. The question of the Psalmist can then be re-phrased as follows: “who is the person that can be said to be acting according to your instructions in your house or who can be said to be living in your instructions among those in your house”. The Psalmist wants God to set the standard for those who can actually be classified as truly in His house to worship or recognised as being there by God. For the Psalmist, being acknowledged as being in the house of the Lord was more than physical presence although with men, that seemed to be all that mattered. It should however be clear to all that it is the attendance register of God that matters and not the attendance register of men. It is presence in God’s register that positions for divine blessings. Men may reward, to some extent, some individuals for regular attendance and good performance in Church but a good Christian will be more interested in the reward of the Lord. Someone who is not in God’s register for attendance and performance may be physically present in Church but is considered absent as far as God is concerned.
So who does God consider as spiritually present in His house?
Most likely being spiritually directed, the Psalmist in verses 2 to 5 lists the qualities of someone that qualifies to be in the attendance register of God as follows:
1. He that walks uprightly. This is basically someone who is honest in dealings and will always maintain high moral standards.
2. He that works righteousness. Such an individual does not just preach morals but also manifests it with works that indicate high moral standards.
3. He that speaks the truth in his heart. In such an individual, what he says is what he believes as there is no deceit in his/her statements.
4. He that does not backbite with his tongue. Such a person will not make destructive statements about an individual when such an individual will not be in a position to defend him/her self.
5. He that does no evil to his neighbour. Such will not even think evil about anyone he shares whatever kind of boundary with.
6. He that does not take up a reproach against his neighbour. Such a person will not be associated with acts that will disgrace or embarrass someone he shares whatever kind of boundary with.
7. He in whose eyes a vile person is condemned. Such a person cannot tolerate an evil or an immoral person.
8. He that honours those that fear the Lord. Such a person will always grant special recognition to those who consider God’s position in all that they do.
9. He that swears even to his own hurt, and will not change. Such a person will not change standards even if the standard will be to his/her disadvantage.
10. He that does not put out his money to usury. Such will not be involved in financial exploitation of any sort.
11. He that does not take reward against the innocent. Such a person will for no reason accept to declare an innocent guilty.
All the above are definite guiding rules that will make the going to the house of the Lord have meaning. None compliance with the above will make attendance a mere physical act done mainly to fulfil all righteousness.
Christians need to do a self assessment to know how well their lifestyle fits into these list that can be described as guide to proper conduct in the house of the Lord. No doubt majority of Christians run fowl of one or all of these and that could just be why worship centres are increasing in numbers but Christianity is not expanding and true Christians are reducing in numbers daily. Churches and its leaders need to build their membership around these guidelines as listed by the Psalmist who believes that a Christian life built around these guidelines will produce Christians who will be firm in the Lord and cannot be moved by any situation no matter how adverse it may be. May God grant us Grace not just to be Church attendees but people whose act of worship will deserving of being called Christians and will get divine recognition worthy of physical and spiritual rewards in Jesus name. Amen.