The hibiscus plant is my absolute favorite flower because it is hardy, gorgeous, colorful, easy to grow and can thrive in almost any environment (provided it is given the right care.)
I am amazed at my hibiscus plants that return every year, like clockwork, they spring forth from their pots like they are resurrecting themselves from their dead limbs. (Despite the times, we accidently leave them out on the back porch in the harsh North Carolina winters.)
It doesn't matter where the hibiscus grows- ground or pot; all the hibiscus asks for is full sun, decent soil and some pruning.
Just three ingredients needed for growth.
Spiritual growth, like physical growth, happens slowly over time and just like the hibiscus it also requires three ingredients:
1. Relationship with the sun (Christ);
2. The type of pot or soil we are planted; and
3. Our willingness to be pruned.
To thrive and grow in our spiritual lives means we need to recognize the process and we must have the essential ingredients in ample portion; lacking in just one area will mean poor growth potential.
So, what do the three key ingredients look like?
Exposure to the Sun
(via our relationship with Christ)
How much time do we spend basking in His glory?
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” ~Psalm 46:10
Reading His word?
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ~2 Timothy 3:16-17
Renewing our minds?
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~Romans 12:2
All of the above are efforts to become more like Christ. We cannot accomplish this absent His presence in our life.
Where are we planted and what do we allow into our soil?
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”~ Proverbs 13:20
Be mindful of the company that you keep, the influences that you allow into your world via social media, television, books and entertainment.
"Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals." ~1 Corinthians 15:33
Be aware of your thoughts and extract out negative ones that lead to destruction; especially in situations that you may find your "pot" to be unpleasant. There will be times that situations are out of your control and you find your environment to be painful, scary and uncomfortable. Maybe you've had a forced job change, a move to a new city, or had a bad medical diagnosis. The key to controlling your environment is through the Holy Spirit- working to make us aware of our surroundings, helping us to find a way and thrive no matter the climate or situation.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” ~Philippians 4:8-9
Having confidences that if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead and control your soil, you will have all the nutrition, protection and support that you need to grow!
Prune to Bloom
How do you handle adversity in your life? Do you fight, grieve and struggle or do you willing submit to God’s loving hand?
Tribulation in life is a pruning process. The richest and most fruitful lives are those that have undergone painful pruning.
“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.”~ John 15:2
It is through a tragedy that people look to God for answers and help.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” ~Matthew 5:4
It is through persecution that we learn to endure and mature.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~James 1:2-4
It is through adversity that God's greatness can be magnified.
Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”~ Lamentations 3:22-24
“Christian, remember the good of God in the frost of adversity.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
Just like the hibiscus plant that would wither without proper light, soil and pruning; we too will spiritually wilt if we are always in the dark, stay in a bad environment and never accept room for new growth.
Seek and embrace the ingredients needed for spiritual growth! Otherwise, you just might find yourself a pitiful dried up twig in a lonely pot!
Wouldn't you rather be a beautiful bloom in the image of Christ?
Father, help us to grow so that Christ flourishes within us. May we seek all the ingredients necessary to be successful in our spiritual growth and grasp the fullness of your love and generosity. Amen.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28