This happened while I was working at the Department of Corrections, Arizona. Like all other staff members, I had to visit the Occupational Health Unit to check the degree of contamination of tuberculosis in my body. I was relieved when the nurse checked my hand, where the vaccination was previously injected, and said, “you are good”.
This reminded me yet again of the dangers of our days. We are exposed to contaminants that can cause numerous illnesses. We can protect ourselves from some of these illnesses by doing things like washing hands. But many other illnesses, unfortunately the severe ones, can become life threatening and a simple handwashing may not be enough. The airborne ones are the toughest to guard against. The waterborne germs are risky as well and can easily find their way into our bodies.
Medical experts have warned us about different contaminations. And, we are well aware that the symptoms of an illness may not appear immediately after a person is contaminated. Of course, it varies for every disease. For example, illnesses like tuberculosis can stay dormant for quite a long time and in some individuals the germs never become dominant or cause any illness. Jaundice is another dangerous illness which can stay dormant but can become dominant at any time and cause fatal harm.
In the same way, we humans can be contaminated with germs of ‘spiritual erosion’. Most of the time, we don’t see any symptom of the contamination immediately. It takes its course. However, once contaminated, there is a danger of falling ill anytime.
I am reminded of these verses from Psalm 1 in the Bible: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of the sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.”
Do not walk in the counsel of the wicked: This first verse points to the ‘places of contamination’ that we must avoid. When we become aware of a place of contamination, we better avoid that place.
I recently watched a beautiful 20-minute talk by Ravi Zacharias, one of the best orators of our time on religion and values. One of the significant things he pointed out was our need to have resistance to the influences of the sinful world.
In other words, our body needs resistance so we do not succumb to the attack of the germs. The need for resistance to the counsel of the wicked is even more important if we don’t want to ‘contaminate’ ourselves with wickedness. Let’s be honest. Do we give enough thought to this truth?
Do not stand in the way of sinners: We have a saying in Malayalam, my mother tongue, which is similar to this saying in English, “you tell me who your friend is, and I can tell you who you are”. You cannot escape contamination once you stand in the ‘way’ of a deadly disease. That is for sure.
Do not sit in the seat of scoffers: Notice the order of the path to contamination: Hearing, standing, and sitting. There is a gradation here. The last one, sitting, is more prone to contamination. Sitting with the infected will almost surely contaminate you.
Delight in the law of the Lord: Verse two shows us how to resist being contaminated. I agree that there is always a chance of contamination that we cannot avoid. Hence, the provision for resistance. To guard our lives from contamination, we need to spend time with the Word of God. Almost all of the Biblical characters teach us that we can resist the infection of sin in our life by meditating on the Word of God.
Let us be very alert to the places of severe contamination. Let us resist the chance of infection. Let the warning of the Lord protect us. Amen!