Fresh and Flourishing
by Steven Chan
10 February 2008
We are often concerned about being fruitful in our lives. Many have written on the subject of fruitfulness and how one may be fruitful. Another way to describe fruitfulness is that of being blessed in our lives. We seek blessings from different sources – some from feng sui whilst the new age people seek them from crystals and colours, etc…But God had already promised us blessings. According to 2 Peter 1:3 & 4, the Bible says that God has hath “given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness”, as well as “given unto us exceeding great and precious promises” so that we may be partakers of His divine nature. Let’s consider some these great and precious promises as contained in the Bible:-
In Joshua 1:7-9, the Lord assured Joshua that He would be with him as He was with Moses, and the Lord said: “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Notice that although the Lord had promised He will be with him, yet He required Joshua to be strong and courageous (not to be afraid or dismayed), to meditate on His Law and to ensure that he does not deviate from observing His teachings (not to be extremists as liberals nor ultra-conservatives). Isn’t there a lesson for us today as regards our Lord’s promise that He would be with us (Rom 8:31-32), and also as to the dangers of turning to the left or to the right as regards following the Scriptures?
In Ps 1:2-3, the Psalmist declares the same principle when he tells of the blessedness of the righteous man whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”
According to Ps 92:12-15, such a person would still bear fruit in old age – indeed they shall be fresh and flourishing! : “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the LORD is upright: He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
In the New Testament as recoded in John 15:5, Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Our Lord requires us to “abide in Him and to allow Him to abide in us” so that we may bear much fruit – otherwise, we can do nothing! Isn’t it about time that brethren who are struggling with their lives consider whether they are abiding in Christ and letting Christ reign in our lives? Abiding in Christ and having Christ as Lord of our lives is a daily practice and not only on Sundays. The apostle Paul wrote thus in Gal 2:20:
“Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.”
“Abiding in Christ and having Christ abiding in us” involves the process of growth and the steady addition of the various attributes that characterize the life of a Christian – as stated in 2 Peter 1:5-9: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” One would note that the additions of the various attributes would ensure that one would not be “barren nor unfruitful” in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. By corollary, the failure to add these attributes would hinder one being fruitful or being blessed in Christ. Let us consider the extent to which we have consciously sought to add to our faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. For example, how self-controlled are we in our lives? Do we lose our temper easily? Do we get angry very quickly? Do we give up too quickly? Are we kind towards others? Do we love our brethren in our actions and words? Are we godly on our thoughts and actions? If we want to win souls to Christ, we must have these attributes.
In the parable of the sower and the seed as recorded in Matt 13:22-23, Jesus said: “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” We cannot be fruitful if we allow the “cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches” choke the Word that we have implanted in our lives such that we are unable to produce the fruits that would glorify God (John 15:8) But if one seeks not only to hear the Word but also seeks to understand the Word then such a person would be blessed and would be fruitful. We need to understand the Word and be a Doer of the Word so that we will be blessed: James 1:22, 25: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves…But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
The Bible has the answer to our needs. We need not look to the counsel of the ungodly or those from the world to tell us how we may be blessed. When we follow the Word of God we will be always be “fresh and flourishing – even in our old age”. Indeed as stated in Isa 40:31: “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
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