Jeremiah 17:5-8 gives a very descriptive contrast between the person that follows man’s way and the person that follows the Lord’s way. One is overcome with no hope of sustenance, while the other thrives even in impossible conditions.
A Juniper in Arabah
“Cursed is the person who trusts in mankind. He makes human flesh his strength, and his heart turns from the Lord. He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives.” (Jer.17:5-6 CSB)
Salt kills plants. So not only is the person in a desert with no hope of sustenance, they are also slowly being killed off by the salt of the land. Any nutrition that they have will be sucked away by the salt, dehydrating the plant. The spirit will not thrive, only suffer. They have no sustenance beyond the superficial, and even that is eaten up. They have no water, no nutrients, stored up for when trials come. They do not follow the way of life, will not plant themselves by living waters. They will eventually wither and die.
A Tree Planted by Water
“The person who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.” (Jer. 17:7-8 CSB)
A person who trusts in the Lord, though, will thrive. They will grow, being deeply rooted and fed by a living stream; they will bear fruit. When the trials come, they will remain strong. Their deep roots have stored up water and nutrients so they will not lack when the rain doesn’t come. They will not wither, producing fruit to further bless the land and its inhabitants despite outside conditions that deem it impossible.
Toxic or Beneficial?
The very environment surrounding one who follows Man’s way is toxic. There can be no true life for that person. It is all superficial. An eventual dead end. Their sin and lifestyle will eat them up. They will eventually become just as toxic to others.
Yet the person who is follows the Lord’s way, not only is their environment beneficial to them, it overflows through them and they benefit others.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be a person who truly benefits others.