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Flourish (def) – grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.

There was a pianist who played for a church where I led worship.  She was the main pianist for the worship service and also played parts for the choir to learn songs.  The first time I led a choir practice she played the parts on a particular song that I thought was very difficult, but she just breezed through the whole thing without a thought.  When she got through playing the difficult part exactly right I had to stop.  I just looked over at her and she sat there like nothing great had happened.  I went on with the choir rehearsal, but continued thinking “how good is this lady?”

Weeks later our instrumentalists were working on a particular song that had a really cool, but tough, groove in it.  I noticed that the pianist was stiff and not feeling the rhythm of the whole thing, so I turned to her and said: “Just let go and play from your heart.”  She looked a little perturbed and began to really make the song come alive with her added accents and the whole group began to pick up the groove and it began to sound “really” good.  After that rehearsal, I went over and talked with the lady and asked her why she was so stiff at the beginning of the song?  She replied, “My mother has always told me not to “show off” when playing the piano, so that is in the back of my mind when I play.  WHAT?  I couldn’t believe my ears!!  Her mother never realized just what she was doing by restricting this pianist, her daughter, from “flourishing” with the talent that God had given her.  The pianist had played with that burden for years and sadly, it had become her lifestyle when using her talent.

Over the period of the next few weeks, I was able to get her to come out of her shell and begin to play what she felt and her playing was amazing!!   That talent was never able to flourish because of words her mother said to her as a child.  I was thankful God showed me her need and I was able to encourage her to not only be a pianist but be an awesome pianist.  I could really tell that she could be that way the first time I heard her play.

Do you flourish in your life?  Have you opened up your life to flourishing with the God-given abilities He has placed in your hands?  What is holding you back?  Who is holding you back?  Has someone in your life made themselves your “humble filter?”  You know, they keep holding you back and use the term humble to justify them keeping you from flourishing.  May in never be so for believers in Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul knew about being encouraged by his friend Barnabas.  Barnabas had a good hold on how important it was to encourage.  When Barnabas became a Christian he sold his land and gave the money to the Jerusalem Apostles.  He brought Saul back to Antioch to help with the church in that city.  Barnabas also calmed the fears of the believers at Jerusalem about Saul.  Barnabas had unshakeable confidence in God and was a constant source of encouragement for Saul and was pivotal in the continued growth of Saul and thus the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Barnabas encouraged and Saul flourished!!!

Paul wrote in the letter to the church at Philippi that the attitude of Christ is full of encouragement and unity and love.  Philippians 2: Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  

There is encouragement from belonging to Christ and that attitude blows up the “humble filter” used by so many people.  That humble filter is rooted in jealousy and pride and the use of it is a dangerous weapon of destruction for those God is wanting to go to a whole new level.  People who use that filter usually have some other motive when using it and many times they don’t even know they are being used by the evil one and not God.   You could bet that Saul would have plenty of criticism and naysayers in his travels, so Barnabas was who God put in his life to offset those people.

Who is holding you back?  Or who are you holding back?  I went to the movie Ford vs. Ferrari and in once particular scene the driver, Ken Miles is beating Ferrari in a Ford sponsored vehicle.  Ken is realizing the victory they had fought so hard for by hard work, and yes, great ability in driving.  On his last lap, he is asked to slow down and let two other Ford cars pull up beside him so they could do a photo op with all three Ford cars finishing one, two, three.  As fate would have it, they were so close at the end that the judges gave the race to another Ford driver who wouldn’t have even been close to Ken had he not slowed down to let the “team” finish together.  Ken sacrificed the crowning moment of his abilities to placate those who supplied the money to build the car and he got second!!!  My wife and I both cried “foul” and it was unfair but no different than those who would keep you from flourishing for the Lord with the talent He has given to you to use to the max!   Our fellowship together in the Spirit has definite characteristics and one of those characteristics is encouragement, and the end result of encouragement is agreement, which is another result of the attitude of Christ.  There are two more vital results of this attitude that Paul mentions and they are found in verse 2.  Those two results are love and working together.

Sometimes those who God is using and taking to a new level of service forget that humility is a huge part of them using their talent properly.  In other words, they should never forget to give praise and glory to God by using their talent for Him and giving Him thanks for that talent.  The focus is always on God and not on the person with the talent.  Our world has a natural tendency to lift up man, but for a believer, that tendency is always to give Glory to God.  I always love to hear someone give glory to God after a great accomplishment and see that they truly know God is the source of their ability.  So, God has to be the focus for the use of the talent and that is the true “humble filter.”  God’s filter is better than our filter because filter still allows us to flourish and man’s filter always holds us back.

Keep flourishing and keep encouraging others to flourish also and see what God can do when we are united together in love as we serve the supplier of our talents and gifts.  Verse 4 in the above scripture says a lot.   4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  Be a source of encouragement for someone today and watch that person flourish for Christ.

The Pilgrimage continues…

David Warren

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