But the Bible also switches metaphors about these types of things. I believe it is for us to keep a balanced perspective on the dynamics of our life and our purpose. An example of this is 2 Timothy 2 where Paul uses military examples, athletic examples, and agricultural examples to bring out this point of discipleship and passing the gospel on to others.
It is this third metaphor that I want to focus on this morning- the farmer. We have so little knowledge of this in our culture today, yet the Bible is rich with all of these analogies. Wheat, tares-vines, vine dresser, seeds sown, sower and the soils, and the last part of I Corinthians 15 and on and on.
So I want to spend a little time getting us to think of winning in the area of spiritual warfare as progress and GROWTH. Seeds shooting roots, roots digging in, shoots pushing through, and growing strong despite the storms of life and multiplying fruit over many seasons of life.
There is a multiple metaphor in the Old Testament about being a tree planted by the water. An example of this is the great dichotomy found in Psalm 1
1:1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Think of the strength and use of such a tree. Consider how much a beautiful tree glorifies God. Joyce Kilmer rightly proclaimed, "Only God can make a tree."
Can we trust God, with great patience, to grow us up into towering Oaks of Righteousness? We are so vulnerable in the early stages, young and tough, and then very hard to kill. Even if we are left a stump- we will yet yield shoots and fruit.
This type of tree takes great nourishment. This type of tree takes a long time. These trees are twisted, bent, even have some knots and notches- but they raise their arms in God's glory. I will comment later on the warfare of 'standing firm' and what that means to our lives in Christ.