Psalm 1 and Christian Maturity

Roger Lee   -  

Psalm 1 is a well-loved psalm encouraging believers to develop a righteous life in God. It does this by contrasting the righteous with the wicked. David’s primary tenets for Christian growth are to delight and meditate in the Word of God and to be careful of who you allow to influence you. He highlights three specific groups of people we could be influenced by: 1) counsel of the wicked, 2) path of sinners, and 3) seat of scoffers. David says that if we develop a deep love of and life in the Word of God and take heed of who we allow to influence us in negative ways, then our lives will be compared to a “tree firmly planted,” which is how we attain Christian maturity. Three evidences of this maturity are that we bear fruit in season, our leaf does not wither, and we prosper in everything we put our hands to.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1–2)

While reading through this psalm, what struck me was the contrast of how we evaluate maturity in the Christian world versus how God defines it. In church circles, we are taught to evaluate an individual’s or ministry’s fruit to determine its righteousness, source, and maturity. While this can be true, it is not the only barometer of maturity. David makes an interesting observation in verse 3 about the “tree that is firmly planted”—it “yields fruit in its season.” This means that observable ministerial fruit, sometimes even personal fruit, cannot be witnessed in a believer’s life. However, that does not mean that they are immature. Instead, what if the metric for measuring maturity is that the tree continues to receive nourishment from the source so that “its leaves do not wither” and that the fruit is being processed and prepared, which is not always visible to people? Could it be that we are measuring the wrong thing to determine maturity? Instead of always determining maturity by an individual’s fruit, what if we measure it by the season of waiting and growing? In other words, could maturity also include consistent growth in the Lord?

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 1:3)

Following the analogy of Psalm 1, the normal fruit-bearing tree does not bear fruit year-round or even half the year. But fruit is usually picked for a season from that tree while it is still healthy and alive to produce the fruit for the rest of the year.  The evidence of a mature and healthy believer may not always be the fruit they produce, but the consistency and reach for continued and constant growth in the Lord. This steadfastness cannot be minimized or understated from God’s perspective of our lives.

Sometimes, long seasons of discipline, pruning, wilderness, waiting, and growing can be difficult to evaluate due to the lack of measurable fruit in our lives. However, the faith revealed in not giving up, continuing to set our hearts to love Jesus, following Him faithfully, and growing in His Word is evidence of maturity flourishing in our lives.  This is the evidence of “a leaf that does not wither,” meaning that a vibrant life and faith are at the core of our relationship with Jesus. Drawing on the analogy of Psalm 1 once more, for a tree to be healthy and growing indicates that its roots are constantly receiving nourishment from the source of life. This unseen connection to the “life source” is the foundational key that not only keeps the tree and everything about it alive but also validates the fruit that it produces, which is to feed others.

With the foundation of being rooted in Christ and bearing fruit in its season, this mature person also “prospers” in everything he does. The Hebrew word for “prosper” means both to advance or make progress and succeed and prosper as in a finished work.  More than just individual accomplishments and projects that align with the will of God, the mature man is submitted and connected to the King; thus, in everything they do, the Kingdom of God advances. This may seem nuanced but it is significant. The carnal man wants God to give the stamp of approval and favor by success whereas the mature spiritual man works in submission as His instrument, being an ambassador in any and every circumstance. I believe to prosper in everything means being constantly used by God and not worrying about the size of our outcome. It is evidenced by a heart of contentment that comes from being connected to the life-source, thus, the mature man cannot “lose” from God’s perspective.

The stature of Christian maturity is knowing that we represent the Living God whom we serve in every season and in every way. The administration of God’s Kingdom is continually increasing and He is the One causing it to grow. He has invited us to participate in the expansion of His Kingdom by representing His Name and character. In doing this, we will bear fruit in its season while continually growing in our relationship with the Lord. Take courage today to run the race in faithfulness with your eyes upon the Lord!

—Roger Lee