Friday, October 01, 2004

What We Can Learn About a Fruitful Christian Life From “a tree planted near streams”: Psalm 1:3

Such a one is like a tree planted near streams; it bears fruit in season…”Psalm 1:3 (New Jerusalem Bible)

We can learn a lot about leading a fruitful Christian life by thinking about the circumstances of the “tree planted near streams” that “bears fruit in season” described in Psalm 1. Three things come to the fore: humility, patience, and the fact that fruitfulness takes real effort.
First, consider where the tree is—down in the bottoms. That is a low spot, not an exalted place. The sustaining elements God provides through “streams,” water and rich alluvial soil, are only found in abundance in valleys.

So it is with us. God provides his richest blessings to those who do not elevate themselves, but instead humbly go where He is, even if, by worldly standards, that is beneath them. See Philippians 2:5-11, Hebrews 12:2, Proverbs 15:33 and 18:12.
Consider also that a tree does not bear fruit overnight or all the time. It takes years to grow from a seedling, to a sapling, to a mature fruit bearing tree. And once it reaches maturity, it will not bear fruit all the time, but will instead have times of fruitfulness interspersed with periods of recovery and regeneration.

The same is true of us. We too must mature, both in our natural development and in our relationship with Christ, before we can bear fruit. There’s no rushing it, we just have to wait upon the Lord for Him to get the most out of us. And we have to be patient during the times between crops, recognizing that what we do then prepares us for future fruitfulness. See Psalm 37:9, Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth) 3:1-8Sirach 6:19-20.
But that doesn’t mean that we are only passive observers. Instead, fruitfulness requires real effort on our part. That is true in two respects.

First, fruitfulness doesn’t just happen because the tree is provided with water and nutrients. It must absorb those essential ingredients and convert them to leaves, flowers, and fruit. Once fruit forms, the tree must continue to nurture and support it as it grows and ripens until harvesting.

And that’s not the half of it. A tree must go through a lot that’s not directly related, but essential, to producing a crop. It must weather cold winters and hot summers, wind storms and, since it’s planted by a river, the pressure of flood waters once or twice a year.

Christians must likewise put real effort into producing the fruit that God expects from us. We must take what God gives us for His purposes and be sure to do all it takes to turn it into the harvest He seeks. We too must persevere through the difficulties that are an unavoidable part of this life. Although we can’t bear fruit without God’s gracious provision, that provision will go for naught if we don’t do our part. See Matthew 10:22, 24:13; Romans 2:7; Hebrews 10:36; James 1:3; II Peter 1:6.

(Images based on water related themes were posted on September 12b, October 1, November 6, 7, and 10, 2004. A series of four images dealing with a somewhat related theme (a garden hose) were posted September 18, 2004 here, here, here and here.
Images about humility were posted October 1 and November 10, 2004.
Images about patience/waiting on God were posted October 1, November 21, December 8, 2004 and June 11, 18, and 24, 2005.
Images about diligence/perseverance in doing God’s will were posted on October 1, 3a, 8, and 17 and November 7, 2004 and January 10c, June 11, 13, and 18; July 15 and August 27, 2005.)

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