It has been unseasonably warm in our area of the country. As a result, some of the spring trees and plants are already in bloom, unaware that most of the time there is snow and freezing temperatures in March. In any event, they are blooming and, snow or not, it reminds me of spring and I am glad.
One of the flowering trees that I love is the Bradford pear tree – in spring, it is usually the first tree in bloom with its white flowers filling up the limbs of the tree. The trees are beautifully shaped and their limbs reach to the skies in homage to the Creator.
Often, when I see the Bradford pear tree in bloom, I think about the beautiful things in this world, and/or what I perceive is good in myself. You know, what I mean – the things that I did and which I perceive were good or the charitable activity that I performed recently, knowing that surely God will be happy that I did whatever it was! I smile as I drive past the tree, thinking that it reflects all that is good in my life and I am happy.
But, if you live anywhere near a Bradford pear tree, and if you have a working nose, you will know that the “beautiful” flowers on the trees actually have a very unsavory aroma. Okay, to put it in the real world terms, they are beautiful as you drive past, but put your nose into the plethora of blooms and you will no longer be happy — the flowers stink.
And the analogy to my own life continues! The Bible says that all of our righteous acts, all the good things that we think we do — ALL of it stinks in God’s nose. The prophet Isaiah describes our righteous acts in Scripture as follows:
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6.
Isaiah’s use of the words “filthy rags” does not mean a dirty dust cloth – rather it is, well, filthy rags that you certainly would not want on display anywhere!
Praise the Lord that this is not the last word for the Christian, however. Paul in his letter to the Romans, states:
But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. Romans 8:10.
In other words, I don’t have to depend on my own righteousness (or good works) to satisfy my accounts with God. Christ did that when He died on the cross … and His Spirit gives life, both now and evermore, because of His righteousness which has been given to me through His amazing grace.
So, I come back to the Bradford pear tree. I still love that tree – it is beautiful with its flower-covered limb-arms shining before the Lord.
But, the fragrant aroma that is lifted to God by the life of the Christian is not my own stinking flowers, rather it is the aroma of righteousness granted to me through faith in Jesus Christ my Savior.
It is Christ’s righteousness that God sees when he looks at me. Praise His Holy Name – and let the gorgeous Bradford Pear tree and its beautiful flowers remind you of our glorious and gracious God!
Father, thank You for reminding me, through Your creation that my works are nothing, but Yours are eternal and good. Thank You for your Son, my Savior and Lord. Strengthen me so that my life will honor and glorify You.