Keep your eye on the healthy soul, scrutinize the straight life;
There's a future in strenuous wholeness. (Psalm 37:37-38, MSG)
The descriptions David uses here won out over advice about money (less is more and more is less, 37:16). Healthy soul? Straight life? Strenuous wholeness? In the search for role models and mentors, these are the qualities David advises us to look for.
Hmm, this reminds me a little of Paul's exhortation to the Philippians: Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent of praiseworthy--thank about such things. (Philippians 4:8, NIV)
What is a soul, anyhow? Popular culture equates "soul" with "conscience" (think of the TV series Angel, about the vampire who has a soul). In this case, I think they have it right. Ezekiel says "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:20, KJV). And we also know that repeated, habitual sin hardens our hearts.
So, a healthy soul is one set on obeying God. "Blameless"--no perpetual sinful habits--and made "righteous" in we are clothed in Jesus's righteousness.
A straight life, of course, is not talking about one's sexual orientation. Straight=no deviation. With my eyes on the prize, I head towards the goal of becoming like Christ. Straight suggests the same idea as pure. Straight, with no side trips. Pure, with contamination stirred in.
No wonder David calls it "strenuous" wholeness. It takes work and effort. It leaves us tired--but our spiritual muscles are strengthened by the workout. Of course, as in physical training here, the reward we get for our training is an even more arduous workout.
The more we persevere, the more wholeness we earn. That's why the elderly have the most wisdom, if they have spent a lifetime straining for wholeness.
So gird up your loins and put on your gym shorts. Work on those spiritual muscles today.
Today's favorite verse: "What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping, that's what I'm doing--hoping You'll save me from a rebel life,save me from the contempt of dunces." (Psalm 39:7-8, MSG)