Week of August 25
"But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever." ~ Psalm 52:8
The word "flourishing" in this context translates into the Hebrew word "ra`anan," which means "to be or grow luxuriant or fresh or green."
During this late spring season, I am reminded of God's promise of a summer harvest every time I tend to my vegetable garden. When I see how my plants have flourished in such a short time since I set them out, I am awed at what God has created, and I am inspired by the fruit He produces. The days are long here in the south, therefore the plants have an abundance of light.
Get the point?
Through God's bountiful love and His righteousness in us, we can produce much fruit, be blessed and in turn bless others.
Psalm 1:3 tells us that a righteous person "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."
It's important to remember, however, that it's not our righteousness that produces good fruit, it's God's. Isaiah 64:6 is quick to remind us that "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."
But do we really trust this truth deep in our heart?
Jeremiah 17:7-8 reveals that "blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
Interestingly, an olive tree lives for hundreds of years, producing much fruit, blessing animals and man (Ps. 1:3 note). Imagine the many seasons it flourishes through.
Conversely, Jeremiah 17:5-6 tells us, "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives."
When we find ourselves in a wasteland, we can be quick to remember that God offers us forgiveness through Jesus Christ, His Son and our Redeemer when we confess and repent. Even so, remember that the consequences of sin can last longer than we would like to tolerate.
Consistently choosing obedience to God's righteousness is the wisest choice.
Proverbs 8:19-21 encourages us that wisdom's fruit is better than fine gold; what wisdom yields surpasses choice silver. Wisdom walks in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love wisdom and making their treasuries full."
Remember that God does not set us up to fail. He sets us up to flourish.
How green are you? And how green would you like to become?
Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God's Love at Work, a marketplace outreach purposed to share God's greatest power source - the love of Christ.
Originally published Sunday, 25 August 2013.