Monday, January 5, 2015
Happy New Year!
Lessons learned from a Christmas tree . . . yes, a Christmas tree!
Since we live not far from the tree farms where many of our nation's lovely Frasier fir Christmas trees are grown, we've come to know a little bit about how they grow, and how much labor and love goes into the growing.
Some of the tree growers are old hands at the business, and they are quite skilled at the pruning that is required to make a lovely tree. And as Christians, we need pruning, too:
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch
that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You
are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me,
as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain
in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine;
you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much
fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are
like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up,
thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:2-6)
It usually takes about twelve years for the trees to reach maturity; they reach a height that is prized by consumers and they are cut and shipped to tree lots for happy couples and families to consider and purchase.
As Christians, it takes many years for us to reach spiritual maturity (personally, I'm not there yet, but I'm still trying!). And yes, it takes work, in addition to time, in order to grow in grace:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son
of God, unto a perfect person, unto a measure of the stature of the fullness
of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13-15)
You, therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest
you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own
steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and
Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
(II Peter 3:17-18)
I've noticed, too, that the trunk of a Christmas tree doesn't have to be perfectly straight, nor does it matter if there are gaps in the branches. When it's decorated, it looks great!
As Christians, when we are "decorated" with the gifts of the Spirit, we look better, too:
....the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, good-
ness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there
is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with
its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step
with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)
Christmas trees are a beautiful witness of the day we have chosen to celebrate our Lord's birth. And as His followers, we should be a witness for Him, too:
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see
your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
You can learn a lot from a Christmas tree!