Trees and Grass

Psalm 1: 3

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

Psalm 37: 1 – 2

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

One of my neighbors cut down all of his trees because, he said, “They are killing my grass.” I thought, what a metaphor for life this is.

My neighbors are Christians, so I thought, “What does God say about trees and what does He say about grass?” The righteous person God compares to a tree. God takes that person and plants him where he will be nourished and have all the water he needs. Unlike grass, he will not wither but rather he will bear good fruit. In all he does, God causes him to prosper. But of course, he prospers because the Lord plants him beside the precious water.

What of the grass? God uses grass to represent evil people. They do not have strong roots going down into the rich soil. They are superficial and temporary. Trees are strong and steady yielding fruit year after year. The grass is gathered up and burned. Do you know how long it takes God to grow a tree? Years! Grass comes up quickly but has not root and so dies in the first trial by fire (See Mark 4).

There is a tree of life, while grass is associated with short, withering life. Trees are strong, grass is here today, gone tomorrow. Trees and grass are used in the Bible in contrast. We want to be God’s trees, not grass and in this way, I thought my neighbor’s value on grass over trees spoke, metaphorically, to our values compared with God’s.

I think that although we read the Bible and go to church we don’t always learn. Who among us has not read a book and failed to grasp the deeper meaning? Do we remember college English class? Still, the purpose in reading the Bible, reading devotionals and studying is not so that we can say we have read the Bible cover to cover. It is not so that we can fulfill a duty we feel towards God. Reading the Word is supposed to change us. We are supposed to begin to understand God’s values and absorb them into our bones.

This isn’t really about my neighbor’s trees, but you can see how it represents his value for the immediate versus long term gratification. The grass comes up quickly and is a pretty green. We can derive pleasure from it. However, six months of the year it is just brown and ugly. We will sacrifice the long-term pleasure of the tree for that quick hit of satisfaction. It is how we conduct our lives. How can a person take a chainsaw to something that took God twenty years to grow just so it doesn’t cast a shadow on the grass that sprouts quickly but just as quickly dies? That which God plants should cast a shadow and we should rest in that shadow because it symbolizes God’s outstretched arms shading us and keeping us from harm.

The Bible says God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55: 9) nor are our thoughts His thoughts but isn’t the point of Christianity that we should be becoming like Him? Isn’t that the point of transformation? 2 Corinthians 3: 18 reads, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” We learned in the book of Genesis that we were made in His image. Presumptively transformation is the process through which we reflect His image. If that is true, we should reflect His value system too.

The point is, we can sit in a church until Jesus comes back and never see this “from glory to glory” change. We can listen to a preacher and never let the Words penetrate our inner person and therefore, never come in synchronization with God’s thoughts, values and ways. We need to let the Word change us and that can only happen when we are serious about its transformative power and allow it to impact us.
Don’t be grass people. They wither and die. Be tree of life people firmly planted by the stream. Grow your roots deep in the rich loam of God’s Word. Be transformed through the renewal of your mind, by the renewal of your thinking. Think new thoughts. Think differently. Find out how the Father thinks and follow Him. Determine what He values and align your value system with His. This is not only the way of Christianity and faith. It is the way of love, success and peace. Shalom.

The Righteous person

Psalm 1: 3

And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does he prospers.

An idea came to me today that I believe we will enjoy. Let’s take a trip, you and me, a journey of songs, as it were. Beginning today let us sojourn through the Psalms. Each day I will send you a verse out of a psalm beginning with Psalm One and continuing until Yahweh says, “Halt.” There are 150 Psalms. I do not intend that we do them all but perhaps we will do a couple of weeks’ worth. We’ll see but through this little adventure, I think we will get a better flavor of the Psalms. Sometimes you need to not bounce around so much in reading the Bible because you get a truer sense when you hang out in a book for a while. So, let’s jump in and see how we like this. Send me your comments. It might even be fun for you to anticipate which verse I will send the following day and who knows, if you send me your favorite verse in advance, well, maybe that will be the pick for the next day. So, tomorrow we will look at a verse from Psalm two. Which verse do you like?

Today’s verse is such a fun one. The psalms begin by characterizing the difference between a righteous person’s experience and a “wicked” person’s life. The righteous person is firmly planted. You can stop right there and shout. What image do these words paint in your mind? Being firmly planted means that the storms of life do not cause you to topple. You are not that tree that gets blown down in the storm. You have the ability to bend and flow with the wind all the while your roots, which run deep, firmly grasp the earth. They don’t strain to hold onto life in the tempest because you are simply rooted. You are so grounded that the winds of change or even turmoil do not disturb you.

You are firmly rooted near streams of water. That means that no matter how dry the season, or how infrequent the rain, you are planted at the stream where your roots do not have to search for water. You always have an ample supply because you are constantly resupplied by the flow of water past your roots. Go deeper in your celebration that you are planted by the stream because the stream represents the Holy Spirit of God. Meditate on that a little while.

You always produce fruit when you are supposed to. You are steady and reliable. Everyone knows they can look to you for fruit. You shall not wither and die. Your leaf remains young and supple. You provide shade and nourishment for all who come under your boughs.

Lastly, the piece de resistance, everything you do prospers. Write that one on a 3 X 5 card. Heck, make a poster of it. That is some good news, at least to all who believe it.