Psalm 1: Set Apart

How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers!
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgment, and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin. (Psalms 1:1-6)

I’ve come to the conclusion that Christians are a little weird, myself being among them. We are unique by design. We wear a badge that distinguishes us from others.

It is weird to live your life for something other than yourself. As a Christian, you are living for Him and accept that your life is not your own. I can see how others may find that a little weird. Even within the subculture of Christianity some of us are weirder than others. Some Christians are a little more “Jesus Freaky” than others, a little more devoted and set apart.

But in this Psalm the author rejoices over those who stand out from the rest to live tremendously and unapologetically for God. He mentions three people who may oppose you and that you should be set apart from: the wicked, the sinners, and the mockers. I believe that distinction was intentional. Daniel gives us a description of “the wicked”. “Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; none of the wicked will understand, but the wise will understand.” (Daniel 12:10) It is clear that these are not fallen Christians, but those living totally outside of Christ. Since we are saved and have the Spirit among us, we cannot be like the wicked. Our DNA is literally transformed to be in the likeness of Christ.

The second group to be set apart from are the sinners, those who are either consciously living in sin although knowing God or those who are aware of their sin, but don’t yet know God. They, unlike the wicked, have the wisdom to know they are in sin. We all end up here at some point and probably have been delivered from here. The important part is that we don’t remain here.

The final group mentioned is the most heartbreaking to me: the mockers. In a more modern language this may say “the haters”. The psalmist clearly separated them from the wicked and sinners, so I feel it’s safe to assume these are fellow Christians who are passing judgement on their counterparts. I know I’ve been that Christian. “He isn’t actually as holy as he’s trying to make us believe.” “She is totally just praying for the attention.” “He’s only serving so he can be recognized.” Sound familiar?

The Psalmist rejoices in the person who steps above all the others and lives confidently in his faith. He even tells us how they do it (his delight is in the Lord ’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night) so that we, too, can be like him! It isn’t supposed to be easy. But the reward is great. It doesn’t say the tree never gets roughed up in storms. But the tree does bear fruit in the appropriate seasons and never lacks sustenance.

The chaff that blows away is the remnants of the usable, prized, and valuable grain. It’s worthless. It is carried off by even the slightest breeze.

You are not chaff. You aren’t called to live like chaff. You are righteous and set apart.

 My prayer is that you live boldly in your faith, set apart from the rest and that, like the tree planted beside streams of water, you never lack in sustenance from the Lord and bear fruit in each season of your life.

What say you?

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