Thursday, 13 August 2020
Title: Onward, Christian Seniors!
By: Cecilia Tan 陈俊芳
The world defines a “righteous” person as one who does what is right – obeys the law or adheres to morals. The Bible however defines “righteousness” as the condition of being right in the sight of God.
Genesis 15:6 describes Abraham as one who “believed in the Lord; and He credited it to him as righteousness”. The basis for righteousness is faith. When we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that God has forgiven our sins because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross, we are declared righteous. Thus, righteousness is a wonderful gift from God to mankind through Christ’s act of love.
In verse 12, the psalmist declares that the righteous “flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon”. If God has blessed the Lebanese with their cedars, we, Malaysians, have also been blessed with our “chengal” trees which produce highly durable hardwood timber suitable for shipbuilding, railway sleepers and other heavy construction work.
What’s so special about the palm tree? This tree survives well in the desert because it sinks its roots deep into the ground to draw up scarce water in the desert. Whenever sandstorms occur, the palm tree bends over and gets back up again after the storm. As the tree gets older, its fruits get sweeter and sweeter!
What about the cedar tree? This tree can grow up to 40 metres and its wide-spreading branches can spread to over 15 metres. Its lifespan can range into thousands of years and its wood has very many uses including construction of buildings, furniture and shipbuilding. King Solomon purposely chose cedars to construct the wooden parts of God’s Temple which was designed to last for centuries.
Both the palm and cedar trees are evergreen, always flourishing, always thriving, always being useful to mankind. The psalmist wants us to manifest their features – deep-rootedness in the ways of God, resilience, durability, strength, usefulness and fruitfulness.
So, what fruit is the psalmist referring to? Bearing fruit must first be an inward process, seeking to be changed to be like Christ, manifesting the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23), showing “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. Hard work will not get us there, as what is required is a humble submission to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and a willingness to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He takes us on the road to Christlikeness.
Bearing fruit should not remain an inward process. Inwardly transformed lives give rise to the desire to be the aroma of Christ, to reach out to others to bless them by sharing His love, joy and peace, rather than being the devil’s agent to sow strife and discord, and to provoke fear, anxiety, hopelessness and despair in this increasingly darkening world.
Now, we come to my favourite verse of the psalm. The psalmist declares in verse 14 that we will “still bear fruit in old age”.
How can we possibly be useful and bless others when we we are old? At this stage in our lives, without having to chase after wealth needed to keep our families going, each of us has become a treasure chest filled with an abundance of time on our hands, knowledge, skills and experiences in our respective areas of expertise, as well as accumulated wealth in various forms of financial assets. All of these treasures must be wisely channeled to bless others, as we will depart empty-handed when we reach our expiry dates!
Not everyone of us can be Mother Teresa, impacting thousands of lives for the better, but we can do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are, to make a significant difference in the lives of those in our respective spheres of influence – be it our families, church, friends, neighbourhoods, communities… even our whatsapp communities!
If we seek to heed the advice of Jesus that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”, ( Acts 20:35) we will never run short of ideas of how we can share our blessings with others.
What about the old who are housebound, less mobile or those facing health challenges? Even these can bear less spectacular but no less worthy fruit – enduring suffering with tremendous grace as they battle the challenging circumstances of life, testifying to God’s comfort and peace as they face the storms that assail them. Even they can be a blessing to many by storming the gates of Heaven with intercessory prayers for others!
So, my brothers and sisters in your golden years, let’s continue to bear fruit and march ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SENIORS!
Our Heavenly Father, we thank You that You have declared us righteous by the blood of Jesus, Your Son, our Saviour. We ask for Your Holy Spirit’s empowerment for us to be like the palm and cedar trees, to grow in Christlikeness that we may bear fruit even in old age; to be the aroma of Christ and spark joy in a world that is daily bombarded with bad news that instil great fear and extreme anxiety. We pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen.
香柏树有什么特别？ 这类树可以高达40米，分支可以扩展到超过15米。 它的寿命可以长达数千年，木材有很多用途，包括建筑、家具和造船。 所罗门王特意选择香柏树来建造圣殿木制的部分，因为它们都可以维持木质几个世纪。
棕树和香柏树都是常青、永盛，茁壮的，也对人类有益。诗人希望我们的生命能表现出它们的特点 — 坚韧、耐久、坚强、有用并果实茂盛，以此展现他们扎根在主里不动摇。
并非每个人都能成为特蕾莎修女，为了更好的未来而影响成千上万的人，但我们可以尽我们所能，无论身在何处，在各自的影响力范围内，为身旁的人做出有意义的改变 — 无论是我们的家庭、教堂、朋友圈、邻里，社区……甚至是WhatsApp 群组聊天室！
那些待在家里、少走动或身体有疾病的长者们该怎么办呢？即便没能结出令人惊叹的果子，但所结的果子还是具有价值的 — 在面对风暴及充满挑战的环境，雍容大度地忍受痛苦，见证上帝的安慰与平安。甚至对许多人来说，他们积极为别人代求也是一件美事！