To continue from yesterday's thoughts, we'll return to Psalm 1:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
The first paragraph contrasts the follower of God from the worldly person, the second paragraph carries a comparison. The idea of a tree has multiple facets, and we'll explore a few of them.
First, the tree is planted by the rivers of water. As mentioned yesterday, the godly person is dependent on God, just as the tree is dependent on the river. There can be no tree without the water because the water has dissolved within it the minerals and nutrients needed to actually build the tree. It's a strange thought, but the very building blocks, the atoms, that allow the tree to grow come from the minerals taken in from the roots. In other words, without the water providing the minerals, there can be no growth for the tree because there are no building blocks from which the tree can be built. In comparison, the godly person cannot grow in their faith or sanctification apart from God. Furthermore, Romans 10:17 takes us deeper, saying "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." The river for the people of God to draw from - the source of that which builds us into the person God called us to be - is the Word of God. And, that which God has called us individually to be is the point of the sanctification discussed yesterday. Therefore, we must draw from the Word to be sanctified.
Secondly, the tree produces fruit. Not to be weird, but the sole purpose of fruit is plant reproduction. The apple tree doesn't spend all its energy and effort to make sweet fruit for itself. Rather, the sweet fruit attracts the animals which eat the fruit, and with it disperse the plant's next generation, the seeds. The godly person also will produce fruit, spiritually speaking. As we grow and mature, as we become more sanctified and conformed into the image of God, our lives should produce attitudes, actions, and responses that are attractive to those watching. Our reactions to hard situations, how we deal with adversity, and especially our grace to those who wrong us are all the fruits the world should see in our lives. It is through this that the seeds of our faith, the sharing of our hope through difficult times, can be taken and dispersed. The mission field starts for us each individually in the fruits we produce. And again, the building blocks for the plant come from the minerals in the water, and the same spiritual building blocks for spiritual fruit must come from the pure water of the Word.
Concerning unwithering leaves, I'd like to spend time discussing photosynthesis and things, but instead I'll keep it short. From a ministry standpoint the leaves are a source of shade and refuge. The godly person should be a place of refreshment and encouragement. The fruit is attractive, but it is best enjoyed in the shadow of the tree. And it's among the leaves where animals can find refuge from a harsh world. We should be the same to the outside world. And, the larger the tree grows, the more leaves and shade is produced. It is the same in our lives. The deeper our roots grow into the Word, the more leaves we produce, and the more refuge we can offer!
Lastly, we see another contrast in the third paragraph. The ungodly are like chaff, while the godly are like a tree. Chaff is the part of the plant or seed that is not usable. When harvesting wheat the seeds would be thrown in the air with a basket, that the wind may blow the chaff away. This is very different than the deeply rooted tree. The chaff has no stability. It may seem harsh to compare people to unusable and unstable things, but the fact remains that apart from God, we really have nothing to stand on. Our works become our own, and there's no eternal value to them. Our philosophies become founded on ever changing cultures and men's ideas. Not so for the Word of God! It is stable and eternal. As Jesus said in Mark 13:31, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words will never pass away." The beautiful thing about God is that, when we come to Him, He makes us something new, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new." The good news is this: God can turn chaff into trees! And, He's called each of us to be the fruit-bearing, shade-casting, ever-growing trees to spread that message to the world, whether in Walmart or Uganda. We are all called to be witnesses and missionaries. May we dig our roots in, that we may grow and fulfill that calling.