A Devotional Thought
by Marilyn Bennett
I have a fig tree in my backyard and every year I have seen an abundance of figs except for last year when not a single fig grew on my tree. This year the figs are abundant again. I am not a tree expert, but I think I understand what David was saying in Psalm 1.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction
When I memorized this psalm as a child, I thought it meant that I should stay away from the sinners. Yes, I needed to be careful about the company I kept. This is common sense. Yet, I have observed that many of “the righteous” have become so separated from “the wicked” that we no longer know how to interact with them. Many of us have become disconnected from the very people God wants us to reach.
When Jesus commanded us to love God and our neighbor, he meant for us to go out and meet our neighbor. When those who live in Sun City say “our neighbors do not meet anymore,” I want to say, “What are you doing about that?” Have we lost our desire to love our neighbors?
Some of us are better at making friends than others. If you do not know what to say to your neighbor, write down a list of things you can ask. Ask them where they were raised, how they entered a career, or about their children. Ask them about their hobbies or how they like being retired. Patiently listen to their story and acknowledge their feelings about serious issues. Be truly interested. Find ways to share what God has given to you or has done for you.
After my husband died, I was invited to join a Scrabble group. Asking people to join you in a neutral setting is a great way to get to know people. Inviting them into your home is even better. Instead of being upset no one has invited you, do the inviting yourself.
Some of us have never invited anyone. Some of us have rejected invitations. Some of us will not risk inviting someone of a different ethnicity or of a different belief system. Yet Jesus ate with sinners even though his actions disturbed others in his community (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:30-34; 7:34-39; 15:1-7). Jesus said, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot
you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14).
I was surprised when an atheist at Scrabble, who knew I was a pastor, invited me to join a group of atheists. Later she invited me to lunch to explain she was very upset about “those people” at “that church” who were mean to her because she was an atheist. I listened as she voiced her beliefs and opinions even though she knew I did not agree with them. This opened the door. I was different than Christians she met at “that church.” I cared about her. She wanted to know me. Though I found it scary, I kept up the relationship.
Two of my neighbors became widows around Christmas. I called them to see how they were doing. I brought them food. I visited with them. When the pandemic hit, we communicated by phone. A month ago, I invited them to my patio. The next week we decided to bring our lunch. We enjoyed it so much we decided to meet every week. When we talk about God or difficult political or ethical topics, we respect each other and hear each other out. I pray every day I will find ways to engage them, listen to them, and love them in Christ.
In the first Psalm, the righteous who delight in the law of the Lord are blessed with fruit. The amount of fruit a tree produces is directly related to its source of water. The water to which the psalmist refers is delighting in God through his Word.
I pray you will prosper in the knowledge of God by reading and meditating on His Word and become fruitful ambassadors for Jesus Christ. As I wait for the delicious figs in my yard to fall, I pray for God’s fruit to fall from me and from you as we love others with God’s help for His glory.