A Long-Term View

Yael Eckstein  |  January 22, 2023

Close up image of grain in a field.

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
—Psalm 1:4

We start out every week with an inspirational lesson from the beloved Psalms. For centuries, these ancient poems of King David and others have been the foundation for Jewish and Christian worship. Enjoy!

As a mother of teens, one thing that I work hard to teach my children is how to make good choices. And as I always tell my kids, one of the keys to healthy decision making is thinking long-term, rather than short-term.

So many poor choices are the result of short-term thinking. Short-term thinking is fine when it comes to things that don’t really matter, like which flavor of ice cream to buy or what light comedy to watch to relax at the end of a long day. But for the important decisions, like what to study or which relationships to pursue, thinking long-term is, more often than not, the path to success. 

Long-term thinking protects us against impulsive and careless behavior. Short-term thinking, all too often, leads to problems that sometimes aren’t so easy to fix.

Living a life of faith means thinking long term. I mean, really long term. Faith means that we consider God’s plan for the world when making choices. On the personal level, concern for the afterlife is central to the decisions of any believing person.

A Long-Term View

We see this message in Psalm 1 in describing the righteous and unrighteous: “[The righteous] 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” (vv. 3-4).

The righteous are compared to a tree that yields its fruit “in season,” or “in its proper time,” as the Hebrew accurately states. But the wicked are compared to chaff.

Chaff is the outer husk and top of a stalk of grain. Chaff is the part that is visible when the grain is growing, but when the time comes to harvest the grain, the chaff is removed and thrown away.

The wicked are like chaff because they stand tall while the grain is growing. When you look at a stalk of grain, the chaff is what you see on the outside. Chaff serves a short-term purpose while the grain is growing, but in the long term it has no value. It leads to nothing and is destined to be discarded.

When we look out at our world, we can often be enticed by what seems to have value on the outside, even though what really matters is beneath the surface. We see wicked people prospering and having a great time. But this is a short-term view.

Ultimately, it is the righteous who will prevail, in the proper time. We need to live with a long-term view.

Your Turn:

Do you have any big decisions coming up? Put God’s long-term plan first and you will find blessings from your choices.