OUR ROSE IS BLOOMING!
I never cared very much for
flowers, especially when they were growing in the ground. They were
all right when they were cut and in a bouquet. I always enjoyed the
odor. It's just that I never really took an interest in growing them.
But that has changed somewhat
since we moved into our new home. We inherited several rose bushes,
irises, daffodils, tulips, peonies, and hyacinths. My wife has been
excited ever since we moved in and became owner of a veritable flower garden.
I have to admit, it stirred my interest too. All through the last part
of the Summer into the Fall I enjoyed beautiful roses blooming outside
my window where I worked at my computer in the den. It did tend to lift
my spirits and gave me a different perspective on flowers.
But one thing disappointed
us dearly. When we took possession of our new home in July we noticed
that one of the rose bushes beside our house was dead. There was
absolutely no life in it. We took this as a sure sign that there
would never be life in it, since it was the middle of Summer. We
proceeded to prepare the rest of the roses last Fall, pruning them as best
we could in accord with what we had gleaned concerning rose cultivation.
When it came to the dead rose, Bonnie cut it down to the "root union",
having decided that it was probably dead but leaving the root just
case. But there was little doubt in our minds that it was truly dead.
What a surprise we had this Spring!
As we were admiring the early daffodils and hyacinths, we discovered something
amazing. The "dead" rose bush was very much alive. It even
survived our late snow. Before long there were four beautiful roses.
Not only was it alive, it was the first rose to bloom. We had not
been in our home last Spring. Evidently, this rose was an early one,
blooming early and "dying back" later in the Summer.
While I was looking at this
beautiful rose, I began to think of some spiritual principles that we can
learn from the little rose. Consider the following:
1. Even those who are "dead in sins"
and seem to have no spark of spiritual life can come alive and bloom.
How many people have you who seen seem to have no interest in spiritual
things suddenly come alive with a desire to serve God? We may pray
for years for a family member or friends, encourage them to obey the Gospel,
think that it is hopeless, and suddenly they respond to the truth.
2. Unfaithful Christians can be restored,
even when it seems like there is little or no hope. Haven't we all
gone to an unfaithful brother/sister and begged, pleaded, and encouraged
them to come back to the Lord? They have become hardened in their
sins. They use every excuse under the sun. Perhaps they have become
discouraged, perhaps they have been caught up in some personal sin.
The result is the same. They are hardened in their sins. They
are dead spiritually. But then, for some unknown reason, they come
to services one day, walk down the aisle at the invitation, and rededicate
their lives to the Lord.
3. Unfruitful Christians can start bearing
fruit, even after long years of inactivity. Preachers have often
been frustrated because they have spent years exhorting lukewarm Christians
to get serious about their Christian living. Suddenly, one Sunday,
brother/sister Lukewarm comes forward and starts being active in the Lord's
work.Let's remember one very important truth. We are not the ones
responsible forthe conversion of the lost! We are commanded to take
the Gospel to the lost (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). We are
commanded to teach/preach the truth to every person on
the planet. We are not commanded to baptize all! That is
the responsibility that is on the shoulders of the lost. We are commanded
to restore the erring Christian (James 5:19-20). We do that by encouraging,
pleading, warning, etc. But where does the responsibility of repentance
lie? It lies with the erring child of God.
Paul gives this principle
in 1 Corinthians 3:6, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave
the increase." God's Word will either lead to repentance or
cause a sinner to rebel and go further into sin. It depends on the
individual. Isaiah tells us, "So shall my word be that goeth forth
out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish
that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it"
(Isaiah 55:11). The Word will always have an effect on hearts.
Sometimes sinners may seen callous on the outside but be struggling
on the inside. It often takes years for a person to come to repentance,
confession and baptism. God's Word still works.
Let us never grow weary
in well doing (Galatians 6:9). Let us plant the seed of the Word
in the hearts of man. There will always be those who obey. Teach the truth,
that a stubborn sinner may become a "beautiful rose."
Copyright 1999 by Grady
Scott may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.