Flourishing and leafing. It sure sounds like life! There’s something refreshing and very alive about a plant-stalk budding and breaking out into leaves. It may have just been a stem and stalk for quite a while; but then, a few little tender leaves break out of buds, followed, perhaps, by some blossoms appearing. For those with green thumbs – this process is pretty big stuff!

For the Thessalonian believers, things weren’t going all that smooth. They had come up against some hard times. The innate hatred of human hearts against Christ was being leveled against them. They were being persecuted because they loved the Lord. The days had become so difficult and dark for them, they mistakenly wondered if they had entered the Tribulation period so often referenced in God’s prophetic schedule. The Apostle Paul assured them they would not be going through the Tribulation period. He taught them the truth of the Rapture.

Paul then writes them a second letter. They needed to know that what they were experiencing was just plain old opposition and persecution for being a genuine Christian. Paul didn’t deny the fact that they were suffering intense persecution, but he took the time to lay-out some eschatological teaching for them – truths regarding the end times.

He starts off his second letter to them with this:

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 2Thessalonians 1:3

Despite all their troubles, their faith was flourishing; and their love for each other was thriving. Flourishing faith and thriving love. Very strong indicators of spiritual life! The initial faith in Christ that brought them into God’s family was growing. Their faith and devotion to Christ was increasing abundantly. The thought is – flourishing or growing luxuriantly. The deeper their roots reached down into the fertile soil of the beautiful Person of Christ, the more they grew spiritually. The inevitable outcome of fruit had become so obvious. Their love for each other was sprouting-out everywhere. It couldn’t be contained. Budding, leafing, and blossoming.

One of the early indicators of declining spiritual health is declining love for fellow-believers. Love for one another is the fruit the Spirit of God produces in my life when I am walking closely with the Lord and feeding on Christ. I cannot naturally produce that love. It is the outflow of a heart that’s enjoying Christ.

Is your faith flourishing and your stalk breaking out in leaves of love? Or, has the plant lost its vitality? Are the leaves wilting or withering and possibly dropping off? It’s time to examine your roots and whether the source of nutrients is still Christ. Is the plant getting the proper amount of light?

If faith isn’t flourishing and if love isn’t leafing luxuriantly, its time to get alone with the Lord. Try: confession of sin, coldness and bitterness; renewed commitment to the Lord; dedicated time each day alone with your Bible; prayer; surrender and obedience.

Look again at the image above and determine whether it illustrates the way you are presently, or the way you once were and would like to be again. Read Psalm 1. And allow the Lord to nourish your soul today.

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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