It seemed like such a small thing at first. It would be much easier and no one was around to catch them doing it. Christian and Hopeful had just escaped the horror that was Vanity Fair. In John Bunyan’s classic book, Pilgrims Progress, he describes Christian’s journey from the city of destruction to the celestial city. As Christian nears the end of the journey, he and his companion Hopeful, find that the good path runs along a very difficult ground. They are discouraged until they come to a meadow. This beautiful meadow is called By-path Meadow. Christian thinks the meadow might be easier so he climbs over the wall to have a look. It appears that path is going the same way as the good path so he convinces Hopeful to climb over the wall and travel this easier way. This new path is much easier and they really start making good time. They meet another pilgrim named Vain-confidence who tells them proudly he knows the way and they follow him. It becomes very dark and they lose sight of Vain-confidence but continue on until they hear a loud cry and a heavy thud. Creeping forward, they find that Vain-confidence has been killed by falling into a deep pit. Christian and Hopeful turn back, hardly knowing the way or where they are. It is not only dark but now it begins to rain, with terrible lightning and thunder. The water rises nearly drowning them. Exhausted they lay down and sleep but their troubles are not over. In the morning they are surprised and captured by the owner of the meadow, Giant Despair and taken to his dungeon in Doubting Castle. As they lay in their prison cell, beaten and crushed in spirit, they live with the regret of choosing to climb over the wall and leaving the good path that they were told to follow.
We have been reviewing Psalm 1 by putting it on like a pair of glasses to see correctly the culture in which we live. I have been doing this by giving you statements that summarize the main points of Psalm 1.
#1 you and I live in a moral world-right and wrong, good and bad, true and false. Life is not relative to what I think is right and wrong. God’s Word tells us that there is absolute truth because God Himself is truth.
#2 you and I are under the influence of everything and everyone around us. What we spend our time doing and what we allow ourselves to listen to will have a growing and progressive influence on our lives.
#3 is You and I live in a world where our choices and behaviors come from a worldview. A worldview is an idea of God and how He works in the world. If I choose my comfort over doing what God has called me to do, I live like a scoffer, a mocker of God. Or if I choose to follow after God’s Word, then I will find my rest and satisfaction in Christ.
Statement #4 comes from verse 3-4,
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.
Here is statement #4: You and I live in a world where choices and behavior lead to real consequences in the real world.
It seemed like a small thing at first, but Christian the pilgrim’s disobedience and stepping over the God-given boundaries by climbing the wall, led to bondage and despair. His journey would have ended in the Giant’s doubting castle if he did not remember the key of promise that he had with him the whole time. They seemed like just a few steps apart. The path through by-path meadow and the good path but in the end, they ended up miles away from where God wanted them to be.
The apostle Paul in Galatians 6:7 says it this way,
whatever you plant, you harvest.
Paul is using a seed to plant example.
Every spring farmers with their huge tractors would have 20-30 row planters with these seed hoppers systematically dropping seed into the ground. You know what would happen every time they planted corn seed. Corn would grow. Not beans, not milo or wheat. Corn. Why? Because corn grows from corn seed. Beans grow from bean seed. Wheat grows from wheat seed. You don’t plant corn and get grapefruit. This is a very simple lesson of nature but the same thing is true of your choices and actions. They will bear fruit according to its kind.
Here is the danger that we are all tempted with. We do something wrong but don’t get caught we think we can get away with certain behaviors. When we do that, we act as if God does not exist and His law found in the Bible doesn’t apply to us. The teacher tells you to be quiet in the halls and you talk but don’t get caught. You are told to honor others and you push someone in recess and call someone a mean name in PE but the teacher doesn’t see it. You need some money so you steal it from your parents but they don’t notice. They tell you to clean your room but you keep playing and they don’t say anything. You look at something on the computer or phone you know you should not, but don’t get caught. When you and I do these things, we are living as if God does not exist and what He said in the 10 commandments does not apply to us. We think our behaviors do not matter, and if we are sneaky enough, we will not have consequences for our actions. Psalm 1 says not so fast.
You see you can’t violate and disobey again and again God’s law and then expect God’s blessing. You can’t treat people however you want and expect a loving relationship and close friends. You can’t keep disobeying your parents and expect freedom and privileges. You can’t keep dishonoring others and expect people to trust you. You can’t climb over the walls of God’s boundaries looking for shortcuts and easier paths and not eventually get caught by the Giant Despair and thrown into a prison of doubting God’s promises. It is the seed plant relationship. Corn seed grows corn plants. It is choices and consequences.
Even though I know this truth, I don’t always act as if my words and behaviors bear consequences. Psalm 1 has a strong picture of when someone acts as if their behavior and choices do not have consequences. Psalm 1 says they like chaff. Chaff is the light pieces of a head of grain, that come off when you break it apart and when you throw it in the air the wind blows it away. How would you like to look at your life and think everything I have done so far in my life amounts to chaff? You see you can’t deny God’s existence, refuse to follow God’s law, and not be like the chaff. It is a scary thought to think my life would end up like chaff.
The call in Psalm 1 is to be like a big, flourishing tree that sinks its roots into the nutrients of God’s Word. Draws its life and energy from knowing and growing in love with the Bible. Believing that if God said don’t do this, I will not do it because I love Him. I will follow God’s law of loving Him and loving my neighbor. I will serve others. I will obey. I will honor others above myself. My behaviors match a heart that runs after God and is rooted deeply in His Word. A heart that cries:
I need Thee. O I need Thee. Every hour, I need Thee.