Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Thorns and Thistles

Thorns and thistles in the original Curse on sin are a symbolic reminder of the things that choke out fruit in our lives; the things that wound instead of nourish.

“To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of y our life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground…”(Gen 3:17-19)

Wicked men are pictured as thorns; men whose fruit is pain.

“Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.” (Judges 2:3)

Lent begins a time when many Christians prepare to celebrate Christ's victory over sin and death by reflecting on our own sins which pierced Him. We have been the thorns in His crown. But Lent is not a time of mere remorse. The message of Easter is that those cursed thorns aren’t allowed to choke out life. Christ enlivens us to become “like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season…” (Ps 1:3) Lent is time to weed.

The fasting aspect of Lent is designed not just to encourage us to beat our breasts over our failings, merely bruising our sinful habits. It is intended to provide a power-surge that will allow us to root them out altogether. Lent is when we can collectively get serious about killing off the sins that hold us back. For example, we aren’t just ‘giving up chocolate for Lent’. We are giving up eating as an emotional crutch – for good! Lenten fasting isn’t about slumping around with long faces, feeling deprived. It is a discipline of pursuing with deadly intent the things that deprive us of deeper fellowship with God. Ultimately, it is the pursuit of more abundant life.

At our house the day begins with a worship time and Bible discussion. On Ash Wednesday (or as soon thereafter as possible), we prune our rosebushes and bring in bouquets of thorns. As we decorate the house with these sharp reminders of our sin, we ask God what chokes our growth, what starves our fruit. And we ask Him to show us what He would be pleased to help us to root out this year. And then we ask each other to help us to discipline ourselves to mortify those things, not to wring our hands feebly over them, but to cut them off entirely.

On Good Friday we hold a bonfire. As we lay the thorns to the flame, we remember that God's firey wrath was poured out on Christ to consume our sins. And we rely in faith on Christ's finished work for assurance that we need never be choked by those sins again.

Adapted from the original article on www.mother-lode.blogspot.com on Feb 27, 2006.  Copyright held by Kim Anderson & released for CBN network.

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