"He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." – Psalm 1:3
The practice of categorizing people and predicting their behavior according to particular characteristics is called profiling. It’s an old practice and, in many regards, a natural practice.
But the word “profiling” was not popularly used in everyday conversation until the last several years when, in many communities, law enforcement personnel came under fire for racial profiling or using people’s race or ethnicity as key factors in deciding to effect arrests or traffic stops.
An example of racial profiling was highlighted when Mr. Earl Graves, an Ivy League graduate and publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine, was stopped in 1995 and frisked, briefcase in hand, by a police officer searching for a criminal described only as a black man with short hair. Then there is the highly publicized incident where Dr. Henry Gates, a Harvard professor, was racially profiled and arrested while trying to enter his own home in 2009.
But profiling is not categorically a negative practice. Many businesses and organizations engage in profiling by administering personality profile exams or psychological profile tests to determine those persons who are best suited for jobs and positions.
Some colleges request that their applicants submit to a battery of psychological tests which yield fairly accurate profiles of people’s strengths, weaknesses, attitudes and interests.
Most of us engage in profiling also. We do it individually and sometimes in groups. We sit in malls and people-watch. We attend social events and catalog people. Even while in church, we critically analyze where people sit, what they wear, how they walk. I suggest that most people who enter into relationships do so after they have done some intensive profiling.
Well, the Bible gives us a wonderful profile of what a godly person is. The first verse of Psalm 1 states that the godly person does not “walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful.”
You can spot, identify or recognize godly persons by how they walk, where they stand and how they sit. Godly persons intentionally separate themselves from the wicked and do not listen to ungodly advice or linger or laugh with ungodly people.
The godly person also uses as a frame of reference for all actions the word of God. The godly person delights in (verse 2) and gets joy from learning and living the Word of God by actually becoming saturated by the word, internalizing and sometimes even memorizing the Word.
Then, like a tree (verse 3), the godly person is divinely situated prominently so he stands out as a representative of the Lord. Planted like a tree, the godly person is not easily moved by new winds of faulty doctrines or the storms of life with disasters, diseases, distresses and sometimes death. The successful person who makes learning and living by the Word of God a priority will be perpetually and predictably prosperous, just like a tree.
If you don’t fit this profile yet, prayerfully you can begin by separating yourself from the wicked world, saturating yourself in His Word and getting situated in a community of faith and you will be spiritually satisfied.
Lord, thank you for giving us the wisdom of your Word to help us focus on how to live the godly life. We will strive daily to fit the profile of the righteous.
Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net . Website: WTRMinistries.com