I enjoy the new growth in spring, not only the colorful flowers but the green conifer trees. The buds on the end of the branches swell with expanding life before the tender new shoots burst forth. The fresh needles are fair in color, contrasting the rest of the tree, and lack the strength of the established limbs. While they are soft and pretty at this stage, they are also vulnerable to damage. Lower limbs and especially succulent tops of small trees are favorite snacks for deer. Farther up the tree the new growth can be broken by wind or birds looking for a place to rest.
As the delicate growth absorbs nutrition from the tree it becomes stronger. In time, the once sagging little twig turns into a firm limb able to withstand dangers. Its color deepens until it blends with the other needles, no longer standing out as “new.”
I watched the new growth this year and thought of the new believers I have seen become part of God’s faithful family. Like the little twig, the new believer needs wisdom and guidance from older followers to help form their foundation. They are at risk of being damaged by friends, relatives and habits from their old life. They do not need judged for being delicate; they need support for solid growth. When they are nurtured and fed they become firm and can stand on their own trust in God when calamity strikes.
All believers grow strong when fed positive food that enriches the soul. Ephesians 4:29 reminds us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Build up others with your words and actions.
Do you judge someone’s behavior with criticism or do you nurture them because of their sagging faith?
Amen, Nancey. You are so good at nurturing. I’m sure new believers have grown greatly under your care and tutelage. Thanks for the reminder.
Amen again. This is what I am learning and trying to apply.