No Withering, Please!
“Only the withering soul would say to himself, ‘There’s no God for me.’ Anyone who thinks like that is corrupt and callous; depraved and detestable, they are devoid of what is good.” Psalm 53:1
The particular wording for our verse for today comes from a more recent version of the Bible. The translator added a descriptor for choosing the word “withering.” Several translations use the word “fool” instead. His footnote reads, “The word for ‘fool’ comes from a Hebrew word meaning ‘withering.’ If we make no room for God, we have withered hearts. Our moral sense of righteousness is put to sleep, and the noble aspirations of the heart shrivel up and die.” There may not be a direct correlation, but Jesus had an encounter with an unproductive fig tree. The Gospel of Matthew records this by saying, “In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, ‘May no fruit ever come from you again!’ And the fig tree withered at once.” (Matthew 21:18-19) We learn two lessons from this simple word “withered.” Defined, it means to shrivel, fade, or decay. It is a costly and dangerous game to play with the soul to deny the reality of God. The second borrows from another definition: to lose vitality, force, or freshness. Certainly that happened to the fig tree when Jesus found no fruit. It lost ALL vitality. The living force was no more. The neglected spiritual life can face the same end result. No freshness. No vitality. No meaningful force for truth. Jesus offered solutions to both. First, observe the realities He brought to earth. The blind see. The deaf hear. The lame walk. (Matthew 11:5) And second, you must abide. John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” Don’t just “bide” your time on earth. Learn to abide. Stay fresh. Vital. And productive for the Kingdom.
Lord, help me to grasp the truth of Your words and learn to abide in You. Keep me from becoming a withered soul and instead be alive to Your will for my life. Amen