Thursday, January 02, 2014

In All That He Does, He Prospers?

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:3
"In all that he does, he prospers."


Though prosperity doesn't mean exactly the same thing for every person, there isn't a human being alive who doesn't want to prosper in everything he does.

When we think about prospering in all that we do, it usually comes with a "right here, right now" kind of mentality.  For example, in the context of sales, the ideal way that someone would prosper in all that he does would be to make a sale every time he makes a pitch, starting with today.  This mentality has no room for struggle of any kind.

But when you take a step back and look at Psalm 1, the psalmist's idea of what it means to prosper in this context is entirely different from this "right here, right now" understanding of what it means to prosper.

Just looking at verse 3 by itself, the agricultural imagery in and of itself is diametrically opposed to a "right here, right now" understanding of what it means to prosper.  Crops don't bear fruit in every season.  They yield fruit in due season.

Verses 5-6 point us forward to the day of judgment, the day of reckoning when God Himself will dispense the ultimate consequences for those who chose not to walk in the narrow path.  And just like the wicked don't experience full judgment for their rebellion right here, right now (Psalm 92:6-7), the righteous don't experience the full reward of their trust in God right here, right now (Psalm 73:23-26, Habakkuk 3:17-19).

So when the psalmist tells us that the righteous prospers in all that he does, the very "right here, right now" mentality that we're so tempted toward when we hear that is the very thing that he's inviting us to reject--the mentality that presides in the counsel of the wicked, motivating them to do all that they do (Proverbs 1:11-14).

Rather, the psalmist is inviting us into a process.  Just like farming, it's a process that often appears pointless.  It's a process that often feels tedious.  It's a process that requires great patience.  But it's a process that is always effective when we persist in it even though much of its benefit is invisible to us.
...but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 1:2
This is the process the Holy Spirit--through the psalmist--invites us to.  To delight in God's Word and to meditate on it day and night.  None of us will ever do this perfectly in this life, which is part of the reason we often don't feel like we're prospering in all that we do (Psalm 119:65).

But the more that God, by His grace, deepens our delight in His Word and our continual meditation on and application of it to our lives, the more the lens with which we view our lives is one in which everything we do right here, right now is an investment in our future hope.  Everything we experience right here, right now--especially the negative--"is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4:17).  And the more we believe this deep down in our bones, the more we identify with the end of verse 3: "In all that he does, he prospers."


Father, please grant us the grace to press forward in the process as we begin 2014.  And remind us when we lose sight this year not only that there are many days in a year but that, by Your grace, there are many years in a lifetime.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

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