My wife and I love the beach. In fact, we will most likely try to find our retirement home near the beach. There's just something so peaceful about the waves, the cool ocean breeze, and the beauty of the sunset over the horizon. We could spend hours just walking up and down the beach or just relaxing under the shade of a palm tree taking a nap in our hammock or lounge chairs.
On one recent beach trip, as I was relaxing and reading, I was reminded of a verse in the Bible that says a Christian will flourish like the palm tree. I always thought it was rather curious why Christians were compared to palm trees but, after some research, I can see now why God used the palm tree as an example of true Christianity:
- Palm trees will not grow in filthy soil. If you were to plant a palm tree in soil that was dirty or soil that didn't have enough nutrients to sustain life, the tree will not grow. How true that is of our Christian life. If you surround yourself with negativity and non-Christian beliefs, you will not grow in your Christian life.
- Palm trees are impressive to look at; straight and tall. Most palm trees stand out and rise above the surrounding vegetation. You can always spot a palm tree from other trees because of its distinct look with its one-of-a-kind leaves. In fact, palm trees guide travelers to an oasis. As Christians, how do others see you? Do they view your life as an example of how a Christian life should be?
- Palm trees grow from the inside out instead of outside inward. It is common for most trees to grow outside inward which creates the rings in a tree we are all familiar with. Palm trees are an exception and grow from the inside. As Christians, our strength comes from our relationship with God and an inner strength that only HE can provide. When we look for strength from the World, or outside sources, we fail as Christians.
- Palm trees grow in bunches for support. Most of the time, you don't see a single palm tree. Usually, you see groups of palm trees in small clusters. Palm trees actually grow best in small groups. Christians are no different. We need each other for support. Certainly, churches and Christians disagree but, the fellowship, encouragement, and accountability of other Christians is essential to our faith.
- Palm trees never stop bearing fruit. Almost without fail, a healthy palm tree will continue to bear its fruit its entire life span. There isn't a time when a palm tree ceases to produce what it was designed to produce. Similarly, Christians never cease producing spiritual fruit. Perhaps it is a kind word to someone. Perhaps its helping a friend in need. Maybe its simply listening to a loved one during a tough time. The strongest Christians are always giving to others in some way or another setting the example for true Christian faith.
- Palm tree branches are a symbol of victory. In many situations, you will see palm leaves used by victors in battle as a symbol for their triumph. As Christians, we are victors and have won the ultimate victory. What happens in life certainly shapes and molds us, but doesn't have the final word. When all is said and done and we breathe our last breath, those of us that are Christians have final and eternal victory.
As you read God's word and come across references to palm trees or the next time you relax lazily under the shade of the beautiful palms, I would encourage you to take the time to do a simple self-assessment of your own Christian life and make sure that your Christian life flourishes like the palm tree.