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
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.
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?
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.
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.)
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 4:12We thrive in new health after we allow the heart surgery of the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). #ThrivingInChrist
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.
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:
- What Does It Mean to Thrive in Christ?
- What a Thriving Disciple of Christ Does and Doesn’t Do
- Use Psalm 1:3 to Keep a Spiritually Healthy Heart
- How Desensitization Keeps You from Spiritually Thriving
- How to Get Free of Secret Sins and Thrive in Christ (Even if You Want to Stay in It)
- 27 Ways Your Good Shepherd Helps You Thrive
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