Many years ago, when I attended a youth conference, a young man came to me and took me aside. We stood together underneath a great Douglas fir tree, and he said, “Pastor, I
don’t know what is the matter with me. I want to be a good Christian, and I try hard, but somehow I just never seem to make it. I’m always doing the wrong thing. I just can’t live like a Christian.
I said to him, Well, there may be several reasons for that, but, first of all, let me ask you this, “What about your private life with the Lord? How well do you know Him? How much do you delight in reading His Word and then spending time talking to Him? Because, after all, it’s not the time you spend in reading the Word that’s important, but it’s the time you spend in enjoying the presence of God that strengthens you.”
He hung his head and said, “Well, I admit I don’t do very much of that.”
Just then this very phrase from Psalm 1:3 flashed into my mind: He is like a tree planted by streams of water. I stepped back and said to him, “Look at this tree we’re under. What does it remind you of? What are the qualities this tree suggests to you?”
He looked at the tremendous Douglas fir tree, towering up into the heavens above, and said, “Well, the first thing is, it’s strong.” I said, “Yes, anything else?” “Well”, he said, “it’s beautiful.” I said, “Exactly! Beauty and strength. Those are the two things you admire about this tree. And those are exactly the two things you want in your own life, aren’t they? Beauty and strength?” He said, “Right.” “Well”, I said, tell me this, “What makes this tree beautiful and strong? Where does it get its beauty and its strength?” He stopped for a moment and looked at the tree. Then he said, “Well, from the roots, I guess.” I asked him, “Can you see the roots?” “No”, he said, “you can’t.” Then he said, “I get it! That is the hidden part of life, but it is the secret of this tree’s beauty and strength, isn’t it?”
That is exactly what this psalmist is saying. Those who are godly have learned, in the hidden inner parts of their life, to draw upon the grace and glory and strength of God. Their roots run deep into rich and moist soil, and this is what makes them beautiful and strong. And they are fruitful: He … yields its fruit in season. That is probably a reference to the fruit of the Spirit, which is described for us in the New Testament. It is the character of God, and that is always the same in either the Old or the New Testament: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, and the rest of the qualities listed in Galatians 5:22.
For your Reflection:
• Beautiful, strong and fruitful describes a life rooted and grounded in God’s life and love. Are you planted and nurtured in the soil of Christ’s character?
• Are you allowing this marvelous provision from God for producing godlikeness to bear fruit in you? Or does a great deal of your life still consist of ungodliness so that you are like the chaff that the wind drives away? (RAY STEDMAN)