During a recent visit to my friend’s house, my son asked her if he could pick a flower for me, so she sweetly took him outside, let him choose a couple vincas from her flower bed, and he quickly and proudly brought them back inside to me with a huge smile on his face. The freshly picked flowers were beautiful and stood tall, but, just as any flowers would do after being disconnected from their root, these flowers soon started to wilt. I laid them in the front seat of my car as we drove home. By the time we reached our house the petals sagged and the stem drooped under the weight of the blooms, and when I placed the flowers in a glass of water they sadly slouched into the cup. I went about my business, making lunch and preparing my son for his afternoon nap, and when I came back an hour or so later, I noticed that the flowers were now standing upright, perky once again. But this newfound strength that the flowers had received from the water wouldn’t last. Why? Because they’d been cut off from the root. The water was just a temporary fix that made them look appealing for awhile but didn’t give them any long-term value or lasting effect. And, just as you’d expect, within a week the flowers had shriveled up and I had to throw them out with the trash.
Although analogies showing how plants compare to our lives are all too familiar – they’re even found in the Bible (see Matthew 13, James 1, Psalm 1, and many other passages) – I couldn’t help but think of a couple ways each of us might relate to these flowers:
1. Believers relate to these freshly cut flowers when we attempt to do something in our own strength, rather than trusting in the Lord and depending fully upon Him.
Too often I set out to do something, and just like the beauty of those freshly cut flowers that had been placed in water, my works look really good at the start. I’m energetic, zealous, and ready for the task at hand. Sadly, also like those rootless flowers, my good works won’t last very long when they aren’t grounded in Jesus Christ. In some cases I’m guilty of godlessness and don’t even consider the Lord when I plunge into a new task or project, while other times I start out with my eyes fixed on Christ but lose focus somewhere along the way. And when I fix my gaze on myself or on my circumstances, it doesn’t take long before I’m either burnt out or found out. Bad motives and poor attitudes will be exposed. My works must be rooted in the love of Christ and in His power and might. While believers will do good works (James 2:14-26 tells us that faith without works is dead), our works are an overflow of our faith. Anything that does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Indeed, just like those flowers, which stood tall in a glass of water for a short time and then began to wither, so too will my works wither away unless I’m being fed by God’s Word and strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
2. Unbelievers relate to these freshly cut flowers because they are cut off from the life source completely.
In fact, unbelievers never had a life source to begin with. God’s Word says those who don’t possess saving faith in Christ are dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). A person may look good, do honorable deeds, and appear to have it altogether from a worldly perspective, but outward beauty and earthly success will not last and do not carry weight from an eternal perspective. The water in the glass brought temporary life and satisfaction to those flowers, but only a strong root system can give that plant lasting life and satisfaction. Likewise, worldly pleasures may bring temporary fulfillment in this life, but it is only when we are rooted and grounded in Christ that we will ever be truly satisfied and complete. Just as my son’s flowers faded away, so will the unbeliever fade from this life with no hope of survival when standing at the judgment seat of God. Only those who are rooted in Christ and drink of the living water He freely offers are made alive and given perfect hope in Him, who paid the ultimate sacrifice on the cross by giving His life for wretched sinners who trust in His perfect righteousness.