Good Lessons From The Flower Garden: Growth

When we first started our flower garden we planted three small lilies in one corner. The first year they were so weak that we bought little braces to help hold them up. The stems were only about eight inches tall, extremely fragile and thin and the flowers were tiny with no seeds at all; but it was only their first year after all. What more can you expect in the first year? Could we expect more from the flowers at all???

A brother in Christ who has encouraged me several times over with his preaching at a sister congregation in town once told me to “keep it green.” I thought it was a funny statement at the time but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. He wasn’t making a political statement; in his own way he was telling me to keep growing spiritually. When we stop growing spiritually (i.e. when we stop “keeping it green”) we automatically start dying spiritually.

Okay, back to the garden. The tiny lilies that we planted now grow anywhere from three to four feet tall with stems as thick as your thumb! They’re the “big dogs on the block” now. They have so many flowers that they bloom at different times increasing their lifespan and usefulness to all the insects and hummingbirds around them. Even more impressive is that they produce so many seeds now you can hardly keep up with them…these things multiply! The plants are now mature and are able to support themselves without any bracing whatsoever. They did what they’re supposed to do – they grew and now they cause other lilies to grow with their seeds too.

Christians have a personal responsibility to grow. Some Christians are unfortunately just as immature spiritually as they were the day they obeyed the gospel. There’s no doubt about it, we have a responsibility to support one another spiritually (Galatians 6:10), but some have been on the “milk bottle” for too many years.

To some these words may sound harsh but it is the truth. Paul rebuked some Christians who were members of the Corinth congregation when he said, “I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;” (1 Corinthians 3:2). Some of the Hebrew Christians came close to danger because of their spiritual immaturity too. They were told, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Hebrews 5:12).

A young Christian is not expected to know everything (as a matter of fact I have yet to meet an older Christian that knows everything) but there is a matter of responsibility when it comes to “growing up” and a responsibility for older Christians to help the younger ones grow. But how can we keep others green and growing if we are neglecting our own growth?

Indicators of our spiritual maturity are everywhere. We must examine and be honest with ourselves. We must keep growing through God’s word.

Are you feeding or being fed? How green are we keeping it? How long has it been since any spiritually growth was seen? Think about it. EA

Good Lessons From The Flower Garden: Sin

Last week I mentioned that I had a new and completely healthy looking flower in the flower garden up and die for no apparent reason. We then looked at the fact that sometimes things in life happen that we cannot always explain.

Life is a blessing without a doubt, but with an earthly life comes many curves with the same sign at the end. God’s word teaches us to trust in His will and understanding over our own (Romans 8:28). As I said last week, that is not all that I have learned from taking care of the flower garden, so let’s quickly look at another spiritual lesson.

As I began to mess with the plants at the beginning of the season and get the garden ready for the new flowers, one of the things that had to be taken care of were the weeds. In the spring time it seems that the only thing that grows faster than the flowers and grass are the weeds!

Some may not know it, but weeds are much more than an eyesore; they are bad for the health of the flowers. They steal the nutrients, fertilizer and water from the soil that should be going to the flowers. Weeds literally pull the life from the soil and rob from the potential the flowers have.

Well, you do not leave something in there like that when you are trying to care for the plants so they can bloom and be healthy – you pull out the weeds! As you know, some weeds have shallow roots and some have tap-roots that go several inches into the ground…at least you’ll learn this if you ever start weeding a flower garden. As I began to pull up some of the weeds the hard soil made it easy for part of the root to break off in the ground – that’s not good. If you leave part of the root, it can grow right back in the spot you plucked it from.

What’s the solution to such a problem? Make the soil softer! If you pull on the weeds after a good rain or a little while after you water the garden, the weeds (roots and all) are much easier to pull out. There’s definitely a spiritual lesson in there.

If we allow our hearts to stay hardened as we read, study and listen to God’s inspired word (and as people attempt to help us grow spiritually) we will never get the root of sin completely out. Just as hard soil gives the root of a weed something to hold on to, so it is with sin. Our hearts must be soft to allow God to remove the sin from our lives. The book of Hebrews urgently reminds us to not allow our hearts to be hardened and to learn from the experience of the children of Israel (Hebrews 3:8, 15; 4:7).

While we may never have a completely “weed free garden,” we are responsible for what is growing there and we must remember that weeds can be deceptive with flowers of their own. If it starts as a weed, it will end as a weed! Sin in its deceptive way, robs us of our blessings, our enjoyment and our spiritual awareness, potential and care for God and His word out of our life.

We must allow our heart to be softened by God’s word and let Him pull out the sin and replace it with the roots of faith in Jesus Christ. EA

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:6-10)

Good Lessons From The Flower Garden: Death

I would not say that I have a green thumb by any stretch of the means but I do enjoy messing around with flowers somewhat. The very first year we moved into the house we live in we put a small flower garden in the front corner of the front yard. For several years in a row we enjoyed the flowers that have bloomed. Some of the original flowers are long gone but some have multiplied and still bloom each year.

Whether or not you have a green thumb you can actually learn some spiritual lessons from the flower garden if you are willing to think for a few moments. It was, after all, Holy Spirit inspired men who wrote some analogies saying:

As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.” (Psalm 103:15)

All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away,” (1 Peter 1:24)

Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.” (James 1:9-11)

One lesson that you can learn from trying to take care of flowers is that sometimes unexplainable things happen. One year we bought some flowers to add some different colors. One plant was bright green with red flowers that had small yellow petals inside of it. It was doing so great. It had basically quadrupled its size since the day we planted it and it looked as healthy as any other flower in the garden. It got the same amount of fertilizer and water as the other flowers and it was kept free from weeds. But one day (and I literally mean one day) it just withered up and was gone. I do not know why, but it did. So it is with life!

I cannot explain why everything that happens in life happens the way it does. I cannot explain why one person gets sick while another stays healthy. I cannot explain why one child is born to loving parents while another is born to abusive ones. I cannot explain all the details to every question a person can ask, including my own. I cannot answer the details, but I can give an answer.

The answer is that sin has brought death into the world (both physical and spiritual). We live in a world that is dying. Souls, hearts and bodies are dying all the time! Jesus was sinless but He still experienced death in the flesh (Hebrews 2:9). Our physical bodies are compared to the grass and flowers because like them, our bodies must return to the dirt they are made of no matter the glory they once enjoyed. In view of our physical mortality the psalmist wisely requested, “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

To many, many questions, the scriptures answer those who have a heart set toward God by saying, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

We may want more of an answer but that is the answer we are given. Life on Earth can be beautiful, but no matter how beautiful life on Earth is, it is short and things happen that don’t always make sense to us. That is just one lesson from the flower garden.