“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, [will He] not much more [clothe] you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 6:28–30.
In this passage, Jesus talks about the lilies of the field, and how much more He cares for us. So, what are some lessons that we can learn from the flowers?
“Many are the ways in which God is seeking to make Himself known to us and bring us into communion with Him. Nature speaks to our senses without ceasing. The open heart will be impressed with the love and glory of God as revealed through the works of His hands. The listening ear can hear and understand the communications of God through the things of nature. The green fields, the lofty trees, the buds and flowers, the passing cloud, the falling rain, the babbling brook, the glories of the heavens, speak to our hearts, and invite us to become acquainted with Him who made them all.” Steps to Christ, 85.
“God would have His children appreciate His works and delight in the simple, quiet beauty with which He has adorned our earthly home. He is a lover of the beautiful, and above all that is outwardly attractive He loves beauty of character; He would have us cultivate purity and simplicity, the quiet graces of the flowers.” Ibid.
We are to cultivate, to copy, the quiet graces of the flowers. What are these quiet graces? First is purity, which means, “free from defilement or sin.” Second is simplicity, which means, “free from pretense or guile [not fake Christians], simple, and uncomplicated.”
Disregard the Thorns
Another lesson we may learn is to not look at the thorns on the flowers but rather at the beauty of the flowers. “Many, walking along the path of life, dwell upon their mistakes and failures and disappointments, and their hearts are filled with grief and discouragement. While I [Ellen White] was in Europe, a sister who had been doing this, and who was in deep distress, wrote to me, asking for some word of encouragement. The night after I had read her letter I dreamed that I was in a garden, and one who seemed to be the owner of the garden was conducting me through its paths. I was gathering the flowers and enjoying their fragrance, when this sister, who had been walking by my side, called my attention to some unsightly briers that were impeding her way. There she was mourning and grieving. She was not walking in the pathway, following the guide, but was walking among the briers and thorns. ‘Oh,’ she mourned, ‘is it not a pity that this beautiful garden is spoiled with thorns?’ Then the guide said, ‘Let the thorns alone, for they will only wound you. Gather the roses, the lilies, and the pinks.’
“Have there not been some bright spots in your experience? Have you not had some precious seasons when your heart throbbed with joy in response to the Spirit of God? When you look back into the chapters of your life experience do you not find some pleasant pages? Are not God’s promises, like the fragrant flowers, growing beside your path on every hand? Will you not let their beauty and sweetness fill your heart with joy?
“The briers and thorns will only wound and grieve you; and if you gather only these things, and present them to others, are you not, besides slighting the goodness of God yourself, preventing those around you from walking in the path of life?
“It is not wise to gather together all the unpleasant recollections of a past life,—its iniquities and disappointments,—to talk over them and mourn over them until we are overwhelmed with discouragement. A discouraged soul is filled with darkness, shutting out the light of God from his own soul and casting a shadow upon the pathway of others.
“Thank God for the bright pictures which He has presented to us. Let us group together the blessed assurances of His love, that we may look upon them continually: The Son of God leaving His Father’s throne, clothing His divinity with humanity, that He might rescue man from the power of Satan; His triumph in our behalf, opening heaven to men, revealing to human vision the presence chamber where the Deity unveils His glory; the fallen race uplifted from the pit of ruin into which sin had plunged it, and brought again into connection with the infinite God, and having endured the divine test through faith in our Redeemer, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and exalted to His throne—these are the pictures which God would have us contemplate.” Steps to Christ, 116–118.
“We may come to the divine Helper, who is able to succor those who are in the midst of temptation and evil. The loving-kindness of God is not all reserved for the future, eternal reward, but it is abundant for the present needs of his people. All the changes of life, all the hard places in the way to heaven, will be blessed by the grace that is sufficient for every trial. We have assuring promises of protection and help. The everlasting arms will be beneath us to encourage, sustain, and uphold. Poverty or wealth, sickness or health, simplicity or wisdom,—all are provided for in the promises of his grace. There is light for the intellect, love for the heart, and vigor for every faculty. If we will not lay hold on the blessings God has provided for us, if we will only grasp hold of the thorns and the thistles, to wound and bruise ourselves, we have no right to complain of God’s dealing with us.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, April 1, 1889.
Lessons about God
In giving us flowers and other beautiful things in nature, God desires us to learn lessons about Him. “Why did not our heavenly Father carpet the earth with brown or gray? He chose the color that was most restful, the most acceptable to the senses. How it cheers the heart and refreshes the weary spirit to look upon the earth, clad in its garments of living green! . . . Every spire of grass, every opening bud and blooming flower, is a token of God’s love, and should teach us a lesson of faith and trust in Him.” The Faith I Live By, 25.
“The God of heaven is constantly at work. It is by His power that vegetation is caused to flourish, that every leaf appears and every flower blooms. Every drop of rain or flake of snow, every spire of grass, every leaf and flower and shrub, testifies of God. These little things so common around us teach the lesson that nothing is beneath the notice of the infinite God, nothing is too small for His attention.” Ibid., 28.
“All who have chosen God’s service are to rest in His care. Christ pointed to the birds flying in the heavens, to the flowers of the field, and bade His hearers consider these objects of God’s creation. ‘Are not ye of much more value than they?’ He said. Matthew 6:26, R.V. The measure of divine attention bestowed on any object is proportionate to its rank in the scale of being. The little brown sparrow is watched over by Providence. The flowers of the field, the grass that carpets the earth, share the notice and care of our heavenly Father. The great Master Artist has taken thought for the lilies, making them so beautiful that they outshine the glory of Solomon. How much more does He care for man, who is the image and glory of God. He longs to see His children reveal a character after His similitude. As the sunbeam imparts to the flowers their varied and delicate tints, so does God impart to the soul the beauty of His own character.
“All who choose Christ’s kingdom of love and righteousness and peace, making its interest paramount to all other, are linked to the world above, and every blessing needed for this life is theirs. In the book of God’s providence, the volume of life, we are each given a page. That page contains every particular of our history; even the hairs of the head are numbered. God’s children are never absent from His mind.” The Desire of Ages, 313.
Beauty of Character
God wants to impart beauty of character to us as He imparts beauty to the flowers. He has spent time and effort to make the flowers beautiful. How much more time does He want to spend with us to make us beautiful? How much more does He care for us?
“God is love. Whoso dwelleth in God, dwelleth in love. All who have indeed become acquainted . . . with the love and tender compassion of our heavenly Father will impart light and joy wherever they may be. Their presence and influence will be to their associates as the fragrance of sweet flowers, because they are linked to God and heaven, and the purity and exalted loveliness of heaven are communicated through them to all that are brought within their influence.” The Faith I Live By, 235.
“Oh, what rays of softness and beauty shone forth in the daily life of our Saviour! What sweetness flowed from His very presence! The same spirit will be revealed in His children. Those with whom Christ dwells will be surrounded with a divine atmosphere. Their white robes of purity will be fragrant with perfume from the garden of the Lord. Their faces will reflect light from His, brightening the path for stumbling and weary feet.” Ibid., 267.
“The grace of Christ in the soul is developing traits of character that are the opposite of selfishness—traits that will refine, ennoble, and enrich the life. Acts of kindness performed in secret will bind hearts together, and will draw them closer to the heart of Him from whom every generous impulse springs. The little attentions, the small acts of love and self-sacrifice, that flow out from the life as quietly as the fragrance from a flower—these constitute no small share of the blessings and happiness of life. And it will be found at last that the denial of self for the good and happiness of others, however humble and uncommended here, is recognized in heaven as a token of our union with Him, the King of glory, who was rich, yet for our sake became poor.
“The deeds of kindness may have been done in secret, but the result upon the character of the doer cannot be hidden. If we work with whole-hearted interest as a follower of Christ, the heart will be in close sympathy with God, and the Spirit of God, moving upon our spirit, will call forth the sacred harmonies of the soul in answer to the divine touch.” God’s Amazing Grace, 337.
“All who have indeed become acquainted, by experimental knowledge, with the love and tender compassion of our Heavenly Father will impart light and joy wherever they may be. Their presence and influence will be to their associates as the fragrance of sweet flowers, because they are linked to God and heaven, and the purity and exalted loveliness of heaven are communicated through them to all that are brought within their influence. This constitutes them the light of the world, the salt of the earth. They are indeed savors of life unto life, but not of death unto death.” Messages to Young People, 363, 364.
Another lesson that we learn from flowers is that the Christian’s life is to be as a fragrance to all those around them. The Christian should be pleasant to be around, not odious.
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” 11 Corinthians 2:14, 15.
What is the fragrance that a Christian is supposed to possess?
“The glory, the fullness, the completeness of the gospel plan is fulfilled in the life. The acceptance of the Saviour brings a glow of perfect peace, perfect love, perfect assurance. The beauty and fragrance of the character of Christ revealed in the life testifies that God has indeed sent His Son into the world to be its Saviour.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 419.
“It is the fragrance of our love for our fellow men that reveals our love for God. It is patience in service that brings rest to the soul. It is through humble, diligent, faithful toil that the welfare of Israel is promoted. God upholds and strengthens the one who is willing to follow in Christ’s way.” The Acts of the Apostles, 560.
“Every soul is surrounded by an atmosphere of its own—an atmosphere, it may be, charged with the life-giving power of faith, courage, and hope, and sweet with the fragrance of love. Or it may be heavy and chill with the gloom of discontent and selfishness, or poisonous with the deadly taint of cherished sin. By the atmosphere surrounding us, every person with whom we come in contact is consciously or unconsciously affected.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 339.
“Love, courtesy, self-sacrifice—these are never lost. When God’s chosen ones are changed from mortality to immortality, their words and deeds of goodness will be made manifest, and will be preserved through the eternal ages. . . . Through the merits of Christ’s imputed righteousness, the fragrance of such words and deeds is forever preserved.” The Faith I Live By, 239.
“Those who are sons of God will represent Christ in character. Their works will be perfumed by the infinite tenderness, compassion, love, and purity of the Son of God. And the more completely mind and body are yielded to the Holy Spirit, the greater will be the fragrance of our offering to Him.” God’s Amazing Grace, 245.
“How many years have we been in the Lord’s garden? And what profit have we brought to the Master? How are we meeting the inspecting eye of God? Are we increasing in reverence, love, humility, confidence in God? Do we cherish gratitude for all his mercies? Are we seeking to bless those around us? Do we manifest the spirit of Jesus in our families? Are we teaching his word to our children, and making known to them the wonderful works of God? The Christian must represent Jesus by both being good and doing good. Then there will be a fragrance about the life, a loveliness of character, which will reveal the fact that he is a child of God, an heir of heaven.” Ye Shall Receive Power, 353.
“When the love of Christ is enshrined in the heart, like sweet fragrance it cannot be hidden. The holy influence it reflects through the character will be manifest to all. Christ will be formed within, ‘the hope of glory.’ [Colossians 1:27]” In Heavenly Places, 244.
“To love as Christ loved means to manifest unselfishness at all times and in all places, by kind words and pleasant looks. These cost those who give them nothing, but they leave behind a fragrance that surrounds the soul. The effect can never be estimated. Not only are they a blessing to the receiver, but to the giver; for they react upon him. Genuine love is a precious attribute of heavenly origin, which increases in fragrance in proportion as it is dispensed to others.
“Christ’s love is deep and earnest, flowing like an irrepressible stream to all who will accept it. There is no selfishness in His love. If this heaven-born love is an abiding principle in the heart, it will make itself known, not only to those we hold most dear in sacred relationship, but to all with whom we come in contact. It will lead us to bestow little acts of attention, to make concessions, to perform deeds of kindness, to speak tender, true, encouraging words. It will lead us to sympathize with those whose hearts hunger for sympathy.” Letters to Young Lovers, 16, 17.
“If we are following Christ, His merits, imputed to us, come up before the Father as sweet odor. And the graces of our Saviour’s character, implanted in our hearts, will shed around us a precious fragrance.” God’s Amazing Grace, 77.
“Pure, sanctified love, such love as was expressed in Christ’s lifework, is as a sacred perfume. Like Mary’s broken box of ointment, it fills the whole house with fragrance. Eloquence, knowledge of truth, rare talents, mingled with love, are all precious endowments. . . . Love for God and for those for whom Christ has died will do a work that we can scarcely comprehend.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 84.
“The true, honest expression of a sister, or brother, or friend, given in genuine simplicity, has power to open the door of hearts which need the fragrance of Christlike words and the simple, delicate touch of the spirit of Christ’s love.” My Life Today, 178.
“We must be Christlike. Let us strive to make our lives what Christ designs them to be, full of the fragrance of love to God and our fellow men, full of Christ’s own divine Spirit, full of holy aspirations toward God, rich in the beauty of Christlikeness.” Our High Calling, 274.
In summary, what are some of the lessons that we can learn from the flowers? First, we need to acquire the quiet graces of purity and simplicity from the flowers. Next, as the flowers look beautiful to the eye, God wants His followers to possess beauty of character. Third, God has spent time and thought to make the beautiful flowers; how much more does He care for us who are created in His image. Next, we want to keep in mind the pleasant experiences where God has helped us. Lastly, flowers produce fragrance. So the Christian’s life should be as a fragrance to all with whom he or she associates.
The things that constitute the fragrance in the life of a Christian are:
- love to God and man;
- Christlike words;
- deeds of mercy;
- little attentions;
- small acts of love;
- acts of kindness;
- graces of our Saviour’s character;
- unselfishness at all times and in all places, by kind words and pleasant looks; and
- loveliness of character.
Unlike the fading flowers in this world, we can have a fragrance with us that will last throughout eternity. “Love, courtesy, self-sacrifice—these are never lost. When God’s chosen ones are changed from mortality to immortality, their words and deeds of goodness will be made manifest, and will be preserved through the eternal ages. . . . Through the merits of Christ’s imputed righteousness, the fragrance of such words and deeds is forever preserved.” The Faith I Live By, 239.
Jana Grosboll, an Electrical Engineering graduate student, serves Steps to Life as its Network Administrator. She may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com.