Use Psalm 1:3 to Keep a Spiritually Healthy Heart

In this post, I’m talking about keeping a spiritually healthy heart using your favorite analogy, the tree. Oh wait, that’s my favorite analogy. Well, read on because we are all about thriving (growing well) here.

What Does Psalm 1:3 Mean?

He will be like a tree planted by the streams of water, that produces its fruit in its season, whose leaf also does not wither. Whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:3

Using the simile in Psalm 1:3, the foundational verse for this series, a tree that’s thriving (that’s us) is a spiritually healthy heart. We will know if our heart is remaining in good health by looking at how we view ourselves, God, and others.

To understand a healthy heart, let’s look at what is not healthy. And they give so much insight. Fun fact: I’ve experienced each of the “causes” below in my life!

We will know if our heart is remaining in good spiritual health by looking at how we view ourselves, God, and others. #ThrivingInChrist #LiveYielded Click to Tweet

What Causes a Spiritually Unhealthy Heart?

What causes a spiritually unhealthy heart? There are four general factors that will cause a tree in the natural to be unhealthy and eventually die. They are adverse environment, detrimental insects and diseases, catastrophic events, and felling. Using compare and contrast, let’s assess these four causes as they relate to us in a spiritual sense.

Adverse Environment

A tree will become strained after being exposed to a detrimental environment, such as immersed in pollution or soil with problems: salty, droughty, or draining inadequately. The unfavorable environment is usually a preceding factor to its eventual death; after becoming weakened, the tree will fall prey to other causes.

What is an adverse environment like for us? We might be sucked into the unbiblical beliefs found in our culture or surrounded by ungodly influences through our relationships. Our mindset could also prove to be a detrimental environment: deception (listening to a voice that’s mistaken for God’s), starving ourselves spiritually, or a form of godliness (religion instead of a relationship with God). Yep, been there and done that on all three. Got the t-shirt to prove it. Er…the blog post. 😉

Detrimental Insects and Diseases

Certain insects will harm a tree, causing death directly, and will even spread disease to surrounding trees. They will take advantage of trees already stressed by adverse conditions. Disease will infect a tree through wounds in the bark, roots, or leaves. For example, funguses will enter wounds in the bark and cause heart rot, a disease that decays the heartwood in the center of the tree.

In A Process to Overcome Weaknesses, I said, “Letting fleshly deeds live on is like inviting a bug infestation to take up residence in your life.” I told the story of a bug infestation my family experienced as an example of letting sin stay. That’s when we reap sin’s destructive pattern (Mark 7:20-23).  

He said, “That which proceeds out of the man, that defiles the man. 21  For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, sexual sins, murders, thefts, 22 covetings, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. 23  All these evil things come from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:20-23

Notice that disease invades a tree through wounds. When our hearts are left in the wake of the hurts others have caused us, we experience something like a disease that overtakes a tree. Just like with a tree, if those pathogens aren’t treated (or better yet prevented), it lacks the nourishment it needs and is destroyed. Isn’t that the case with the damage that hurt left unchecked can do?

Catastrophic Events

Tornados, forest fires, heavy ice, and floods all have the potential to severely damage a tree. In many cases, the tree is negatively affected but not completely destroyed; insects or disease encroach on the tree’s damaged state and finish it off.

What are examples of a catastrophic event for us? Enduring any kind of abuse, the loss of a loved one, a loss that greatly affects our livelihood, a desperate health crisis. These are extreme circumstances that require additional support. When a dire event occurs in our country, others come and help those affected bear the load. It’s the same way when a catastrophe hits us; we need others more than ever. Otherwise, something else comes along (like one of the other aforementioned causes, and it’s like the straw that breaks the camels back.

Chopped Down

We all know that trees die due to felling. (Poor trees. But my kids are grateful. They go through the paper like a stack of freshly made pancakes. …Hmm now I want pancakes.)

But you don’t need to worry about God “chopping you down.” Because of His everlasting love for you, God might arbitrate pruning or discipline.

It’s the devil who devises to destroy you (John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8). His number one goal is to make you ineffective for the kingdom of God and his ultimate goal to convince you to turn your back on God forever.

A tree doesn’t fall with one slice of the saw or one chop from the ax. It’s a slow, consistent action. Satan has until you die to keep working on trying to destroy you. But remember, if you belong to God, then Jesus gave you authority over him. You just need to know how to use your sword.

Why Do Those Factors Cause a Spiritually Unhealthy Heart?

Bark surrounds a tree. When the bark is wounded or damaged, it causes trouble for the tree. Beetles will directly attack this barrier. Not only does the devil prey on us like a lion and attack the weak, he will attack our identity in Christ itself.

When we don’t have an accurate understanding of who we are in Christ, sin, hurt, religious thinking, rule-keeping, and deception will all keep our hearts in a spiritually unhealthy condition. Eventually, these will strip us of the nourishment we need.

Symptoms of an Injured Heart

  • Me-focus because of pain (which negatively affects relationships with others)
  • Distrusts or rejects God
  • Joy is stolen
  • Doesn’t feel like fulfilling her calling, takes a “what’s the use” attitude
  • Becomes envious of those who are happy, thriving in life, have a good relationship with God, or are walking well in their calling

When we have any of the above “symptoms,” then above all else, it’s time to apply Truth. We thrive in new health after we allow the heart surgery of the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). It’s always worth it in the end!

For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

RELATED: How to Be Healed from Hurt: A Triple-Braided Cord

We thrive in new health after we allow the heart surgery of the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). #ThrivingInChrist Click to Tweet

What Is a Spiritually Healthy Heart?

A spiritually healthy heart is a heart after God, continuing to grow spiritually, just like the simile in Psalm 1:3. (You can learn more about this in the first two posts in our Thriving in Christ series. Just see the links at the end.) A flourishing heart after God knows that she is a daughter of God that stays in the family despite mistakes. She biblically deals with an injured heart. There is a true Father-daughter relationship. She continues to mature in Christ. She knows what God does with her sins.

Watch Over Your Heart.

We have a difficult time forgetting our transgressions, and “You Know Who” likes to try to remind us of them. But God doesn’t remember them anymore (see Hebrews 10:17 below). And neither should we. It’s part of our covenant.

“I will remember their sins and their iniquities no more.” Hebrews 10:17

Attributes of a Well Heart

  • Continually seeks heart wholeness
  • Sees herself as a daughter of the King
  • Is a good steward of the gifts and callings of God
  • Chooses to love, forgive, and trust others

Why do we need a spiritually healthy heart? Heart wholeness promotes the light of Christ shining like a beacon in a dark world. This world needs your light. So I implore you to use the meaning of Psalm 1:3 to keep spiritual wellness a priority.

Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 NASB

I’m praying for you to have a spiritually healthy heart so you will thrive in Christ! Did you see yourself in one of these descriptions? I hope you enjoyed learning about the meaning of Psalm 1:3 today!


Other Great Posts in the Thriving in Christ Series:

  1. What Does It Mean to Thrive in Christ?
  2. What a Thriving Disciple of Christ Does and Doesn’t Do
  3. Use Psalm 1:3 to Keep a Spiritually Healthy Heart
  4. How Desensitization Keeps You from Spiritually Thriving
  5. How to Get Free of Secret Sins and Thrive in Christ (Even if You Want to Stay in It)
  6. 27 Ways Your Good Shepherd Helps You Thrive

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23 Comments

  1. Love the analogy, Kelly! I’m affectionate about Psalm 1:3. Back in August, I attended a leadership board retreat in a beautiful, wooded area full of lakes and creeks, with a mountain backdrop. During a personal reflection time outside, I parked myself on a large rock beside a bubbling creek. As I prayed and looked around, I noticed a large tree beside me with roots running into the creek bed. So turning to Psalm 1, my heart became grateful at the picture of God’s Word He allowed me to see in that moment. Your points about injured hearts and healthy hearts are spot on. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      That sounds like a sweet time, Karen! Thanks for sharing that. And thank you for your encouragement. You made my day!

  2. I love the attributes you gave for a well heart. I think being a good steward is often overlooked too. I pray that the Lord continues to grow me. I want to have a heart for Him every day.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      That’s my prayer, too, Amy! Thanks for your visit today. 🙂

  3. Love the tree analogy, Kelly-I often use it myself when speaking/writing on wellness. Love your concepts here as they apply to a thriving and well heart. “Heart wholeness promotes the light of Christ shining like a beacon in a dark world.” Amen, my friend, Amen!

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      Thank you, Jill! I enjoyed researching more about trees for this post. 😉 Have a great day, friend!

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      Thank you times three! 🙂 Have a great day!

  4. I love the picture you painted of insects and disease attacking the plant through a wound! That is so true to life, but perhaps ignored just as often as we ignore wounds on our trees. This gives me something to think about. Obviously, we must take care of the wounds to prevent this from happening. That’s one reason Jesus tells us to forgive, because we cannot be whole again as long as we allow those wounds to fester.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      I was taking a walk yesterday and noticed my neighbor’s tree had the heart rot. I don’t look at trees the same now. Yes, on the forgiveness point. So much truth in God’s Word!

  5. Rebecca Jones says:

    Thanks Kelly. Beauty for ashes and He wants us to be trees of righteousness. I lived in Atlanta and had a large oak in the yard, it was probably small during the Civil War, and have you seen the olive tress in Israel, some were probably there when Jesus cried in Gethsemane.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      It’s amazing how long trees can live. They’ve “seen” a lot! Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca!

  6. Love the analogy and the attributes of a spiritually healthy heart. Great post Kelly. Thanks!

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      Great to see you here, Lureta!

  7. I feel like I’ve just been to church, Kelly. 🙂 Such a strong word today, thank you. — And, that correlation to the bug infestation makes it come to life in my mind — we have moths in our pantry! Can you even?! ugh! I leave the doors open all the time in the summer, and we leave the pantry light on at night in the kitchen a lot, so I guess they were attracted to the light in there and took up headquarters there. As many times as I’ve thrown everything out of the pantry and vacuumed the moths, I still can’t get them to go away forever-and-ever-amen. It really is a pain, so I can relate it well to spiritual vulnerability. 🙂 ((xoxo))

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      Oh, wow I hope you get it remedied soon! One question I want to ask God when face-to-face is, “Did You have to make bugs?” 😉 Thanks for your encouragement today, friend! Many blessings!

    2. Oh, Brenda! We had those pantry moths one year! We had to go through months and months of keeping anything containing grain in the fridge or the freezer before we finally got rid of them. They seemed to be able even to navigate around tight seals of some of my containers. We did finally get rid of them that way, though!

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      My pleasure, Christine. It’s such a rich psalm, isn’t it?

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      It’s so good to have you visit, my friend! Love you!

  8. May God help us continually guard our hearts! Thanks for this reminder, Kelly. Blessings to you.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      So glad you took the time to stop by, Boma! I appreciate your encouragement! Blessings to you as well.

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