Growing in His Grace – My Daily Bread!
Our call to give the Lord praise is taken from Psalm 52: 8-9, NIV, which reads:
“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of Your saints.”
These words were spoken by David, a man after God’s own heart! It is a reminder to praise the living God for what the Lord had done in our life; recognizing God’s never ending love, the source of our hope! I was intrigued by the beautiful statement of David comparing himself to an olive tree flourishing in the house of God. What did he mean? Well it took a bit of fact finding to gather some information about the good old olive tree to add some meaning to David’s praise! Here is what I found that truly encouraged my heart and I pray that it encourages yours also.
The olive tree is an evergreen fruit tree that grows to about 50 feet high and 30 feet wide and was plentiful during Biblical times. The first mention of it in the Bible is in the book of Genesis, where we are told that it was returned to Noah on the Ark by a dove, signaling the end of the Great Flood. “He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.” (Genesis 8: 10-11, NIV)
So the Israelites were familiar with the olive tree thousands of years ago. In the Hebrew culture, it symbolized peace and happiness. Although the average life span of an olive tree is about 500 years, several olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane are reputed to date back to the time of Jesus; while some Italian olive trees are believed to date back to Roman times. You guessed it, that’s over 2,000 years old and still around today – and amazingly still producing fruit!
Olive trees are also tenacious, easily sprouting back even when chopped to the ground! However, they do require strict climate conditions in order to grow. The conditions needed include a hot growing season, and yet the tree also needs a winter period of temperatures between 35 and 60 degrees fahrenheit. In addition to needing a winter with cool nights and warm days, the olive tree dies when exposed to temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a tree that can thrive in adverse conditions!
Olive trees start bearing fruit at around 5 years of age. Until that time, the graceful, billowing appearance of the tree is very attractive. In an all-green garden its grayish foliage serves as an interesting highlight. The attractive, gnarled branching pattern is also quite distinctive, all in all a beauty to behold! When initially harvested from the tree, the olive is extremely bitter and virtually inedible. Prior to eating, commercial olives are typically soaked in either lye, water or oil to take out the bitterness and make them edible.
An olive tree can be productive for centuries, as long as they are pruned correctly and regularly. Pruning is necessary in order to ensure sunlight reaches all parts of the tree. Pruning also regulates production and shapes the tree for easier harvest. It should be noted that the olive tree never bears fruit in the same place twice, and usually bears fruit on the previous year’s growth. So it must be ever growing and fruitful to stay alive and be productive!
What an amazing tree, no wonder David desired to be like one! Some of the thoughts that came to mind while reflecting on flourishing like an olive tree for the Beloved of God today include:
Growth Habits: Initially, like the olive tree we too are unusable when first harvested by the Lord; oftentimes taking years to produce any fruit. Our ways and how we think are generally not palatable to the Lord. However, we are still beautiful in His eyes with our rough outer gnarled shells that yield to His Spirit!
Climate Control: Olive trees must have the right climate to grow and we Christians cannot grow into what God wills unless we are in the right climate – one suitable for being productive for Him. We need a climate rich with the things of God, full of His Word and free of harmful pollutants from the environment. We must always monitor our spiritual climate, asking ourselves is it suitable for growing in the Lord? Or are there harmful pollutants from the environment that makes it impossible for you to thrive. Remember Saints it is always to cold no matter what the temperature outside of God’s love and when we get to far below God’s standards we can die a spiritual death.
Regular Pruning: Just as an olive tree can be productive for centuries if properly and regularly pruned, so too can we be productive throughout our Christian life as long as we submit to the teaching, training and correction found in His Word. Just as pruning the olive tree makes it possible for the sun to reach all parts of the tree, God’s pruning based upon a steady diet of His Word and application of His standards ensures that His truths take hold and impact every aspect of our lives. God’s pruning (1) cuts away what we no longer need; (2) shapes us into the image of Christ and (3) makes it easier for God to use us for His glory!
Speaking of the benefits of God’s pruning Hebrews 12:5-6,9-11 tells us: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son. God disciplines us for our good that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Saints, gladly submit to the Lord’s pruning in your life, it will increase your effectiveness in His kingdom!
Yield a Bountiful Harvest: Not only do olive trees live a long time, they have also been known to produce fruit for centuries! As noted above an olive tree usually bears fruit on the previous year’s growth. We too must grow in our spiritual life, able to handle the mature things of God which promote the unity of the Holy Spirit. In short we must be ever-growing and fruitful to stay alive and be productive! We cannot bear fruit apart from Christ. Jesus told His followers: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” (John 15: 16, NIV) Jesus also revealed the secret to being fruitful, He said: “Remain in me, and I will 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.” (John 15: 4, NIV)
How fitting that David spoke of flourishing in God’s house and trusting in God’s unending love, praising God for what He had done in his life; hoping in Him alone and prospering in the house of the Lord! Are you like David, that beautiful olive tree flourishing in the house of your God? Will you praise Him and hope in His name? Saints, God longs for us to flourish and grow tall in his love– “and by His grace gives us eternal encouragement and good hope, to encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17, NIV)
Copyright© 2011-2012 Colleen Holton All Rights Reserved.