Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 6 2019 - Psalm 1 – The godly life

I have just finished a rather sad book by a woman whose family were involved with the Exclusive Brethren. The leaders of that movement seemed to think that holiness required separation from any who were not in their own sect. Married couples, parents and children were divided from one another and told to lead separate lives. It is difficult to imagine that this was pleasing to God.

Psalm 1 declares:

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.

What does this mean for us in practical terms? How are we to live holy lives? Do we have to separate ourselves physically from the world around us?

Who was the most perfectly holy human being who ever walked the earth? It was our lovely Lord Jesus Christ. He was and is “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). His life was not shaped by that of others around him who did not know his loving Father; his life was shaped by devotion to his Father and by a determination to do the Father's will. But Jesus did not keep himself physically separate from “sinners”. On the contrary, those in his day who separated themselves from others and thought of themselves as holy and righteous complained that Jesus was often found in the company of “sinners” and of the outcasts and dregs of society. He was found often in their company because these are those for whom he came into the world. His presence touched and transformed them – he was not polluted by being with them or eating with them. 

We are called to be like the Lord Jesus, to listen to his voice and follow him. We are not called to physical separation from the world around us or from the people of this world, but we are called not to conform to this world but to have minds and characters continually transformed by the presence and power of the risen Saviour. We are called to be a people who bring his transforming presence into every situation we are in.

And we have the promise of God that those who live such lives will be blessed. The life rooted in Jesus Christ bears fruit (v.3), abundant fruit, fruit that will last (see John 15). Lives lived in close fellowship with Jesus bear fruit to the glory of God.

“Whatever they do prospers”, promises the psalm. God does not promise to make us prosperous in terms of our finances or possessions. Rather, he promises that life devoted to God is a life worth living – indeed, it is the only life worth living. It is the most blessed, the most happy of lives.

There could not be a greater contrast between the flourishing life of the one who lives in close communion with Jesus and the person who cares nothing for God and lives only to please themselves. Their lives are described as being like chaff which the winds of judgment and of eternity will blow away.

Lord Jesus, help me to live in close fellowship with you. May my life count for something – count for eternity. Keep me from becoming conformed to the character of this world. Enable me rather to bring your transforming presence into each and every action, conversation and relationship. May I bring streams of living water into the thirsty deserts of a world that does not know you. Help me to breathe in deeply of the life of the kingdom and breathe out that life to give life to others.

Peter Misselbrook