Days of Summer
We are now in the tranquil days of summer. Generally we look forward to the warm days when the grass is green and nature thrives, when children love to romp and play outside , and when we need not be confined to a house because of cold winds and drifting snow.
According to the promise of the Lord given after the worldwide flood, “seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). The psalmist adds that God has made “summer and winter” (Psalm 74:17). Some knowledgeable creationist scientists suggest that the earth did not experience much cold (or winter weather) before the flood, however both cold and heat have been our lot since that time. We know that there will be a time when there will no longer be any heat to oppress us (Rev. 7:16), and it is a fair assumption that cold will also disappear. We know that there will be a time in the future when night shall cease (Rev. 21:25; 22:5). Apparently the heavenly bodies, including the sun and moon and stars, will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10-12) and will be no more (Rev. 21:23; 22:5). All of this suggests that summer, as we know it, is confined to this present earth and our present experience. Or we may assume that all of the “new earth” (Rev. 21:1) will have summer-like weather, minus oppressive heat!
But right now, when we do experience summer, we may learn certain spiritual lessons. Our apologies are extended to those readers who live in the Southern Hemisphere, who are presently experiencing winter. Yet you too can learn something of the spiritual lessons we shall mention.
Summer is a Time of Fruitfulness
Much of the world is involved in agriculture. Much of the background of the Bible itself is that of farming. Up until a century ago, most families in America lived on farms or in the country. Even now, many families have their own garden plots where they raise tomatoes, beans, peas, corn, and other vegetables and fruit. We can all understand how summer should mean fruitfulness.
Scripture refers to “summer fruit” (cf. 2 Sam. 16:1-2; Isa. 16:9; Jer. 40:10; 48:32; Amos 8:1-2). Summer is the time when apples, peaches, pears, and other fruit ripen. It is the time when grains grow and vegetables ripen. It is the time of fruitfulness and productivity.
The Christian life may be likened to summertime. We are called upon to be fruitful. Jesus said, “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (John 15:8). We may be fruitful as we allow the Holy Spirit to produce fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control in our life (Gal. 5:22-23). This fruit comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Phil. 1:11). If we fail to bear spiritual fruit, we need to ask God to search our heart and reveal to us what can be done to cultivate a crop of health fruit in our heart and lifethe fruit of changed character and good deeds.
Summer is a Time of Sustained Growth
What began in the spring is continued during the summer. The new life that arises in the spring is matured during the summer. Summer provides months of continued advancement, progress, and maturity.
We know that when a person comes to Christ, he becomes a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), a new person (Col. 3:10), with a renewed mind (Eph. 4:23-24). But God is not finished with this new person in Christ Jesus. He wants that person to grow and mature. Thus, Peter says that we are to “grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). He commands, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Paul speaks of the Philippians “progress and joy in the faith” (Phil. 1:25).
Again and again, the inspired writers encourage us to press on, continue on, persevere, endure, and grow in our daily life. Paul says that we are to “walk” in Christ, “having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith” (Col. 2:6-7). What began when we were first forgiven and saved must continue if we are to reach the heavenly kingdom! Our life is to be one of sustained growth.
Summer is a Time of Weariness from Work
It may be difficult for those who live in the city and have never experienced country living to understand this point. We know that many in our contemporary world have always had air conditioning, have never had a garden, and have never worked to exhaustion. But summertime can be a time of intense work on the farm, as the crops are nurtured to produce a great harvest in the fall. Even in the city, summer brings lawn mowing, hedge-trimming, house painting, and other outdoor work.
The Christian life was never meant to be a comfortable experience. Although many may live apathetic lives and show spiritual indifference, this is not what pleases God. Our life on earth is the time of labor for the Lord for we know that our time here is short. Paul writes, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise; making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). Our time is brief; thus it is imperative that we use it to the greatest extent possible. Someone wisely said, “We have all eternity to celebrate the victory, but one brief moment to win it!” This is why our life is often compared to a race (cf. Phil. 3:12-14; 1 Cor. 9:24-27; Heb. 12:1-2; 2 Tim. 4:6-8). We are to run the race of life, to the point of exhaustion, so that we may win the race. I recently listened to an interview with a leader in his eighties. According to this renowned “Christian” leader, his aim in life is to “finish well.” He said that he wanted to so live life with a passion, even in his eighties, that he will come to the end of his life with satisfaction.
Yet we must admit that the weariness of the race and the fatigue from the battle may wear us down. This is why we are given encouragement along the way. Paul writes, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9). In another place the apostle wrote, “We do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comprehension” (2 Cor. 4:16-17). In light of the resurrection that awaits us, Paul urges us: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). The farmer who works to exhaustion in the summer is looking to the autumn harvest. Likewise, the Christian who perseveres through the difficulties of life is looking forward toward an eternal harvest!
Summer is a Time of Stress and Hardship
Many people from the colder regions of America have moved to northern Texas during the past couple of decades to escape the northern winters. However, Texas itself can provide some warm summer days when these “transplants” would like to migrate north for several months! Think too of places like Arizona where summer days can reach 115 or 120 degrees! Summer can produce some stress and hardship. I notice that roses are not as fruitful during the summer months and many garden vegetables will die unless they are watered daily.
Our life in Christ was not meant to be a time of constant peace and tranquility. Yes, we will find quietness and peace in our relationship with Jesus (cf. Matthew 11:28-30). At the same time, again and again we are forewarned that stress and hardship will generally characterize our lives. Paul warned new believers, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). This is a side of the life of discipleship that many would like to deny or avoid, but God assures us that it is a necessary element that we must experience. Jesus said that we can expect persecutions in life (Mark 10:30). Paul says the same (2 Tim. 3:11-12). The apostle says that we have been destined to experience afflictions for Christ (1 Thess. 3:3). We can expect to suffer for Jesus sake (2 Thess. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:3). Only those who persevere under trial will receive the crown of life (James 1:12).
Just as summer has traditionally brought hardship to people, so our life in Christ can be expected to give us a measure of hardship. If we are not suffering for the Lord Jesus, facing trials in life because of Jesus, or being persecuted for the cause of Christ, we need to take a long, hard look at our life. Is there something missing?
Summer is a Time of Preparation
Since summer is the time of growth in the natural world, it is the time of preparation for the future. One proverb counsels us to learn a lesson from the ant. The writer says that this insect “prepares her food in the summer” (Prov. 6:8; cf. 30:25). We also read, “He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely” (10:5). If crops are not cared for in the summer, they cannot provide a harvest; and if there is no harvest, there is no preparation for the winter.
A person is foolish indeed if he does not think about the future. Each of us must die (Heb. 9:27). The only exception will be those who are alive when Christ returns (1 Thess. 4:15,17). Yet many persist in thinking to themselves, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19). God replies to such an attitude and philosophy, “You fool!” (v. 20). Our life here and now is merely a time of preparationa time to prepare for that which is to come! We are called upon to serve, to labor, to preach, to teach, to endure during our present life so that we “may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Tim. 6:19). We are living and preparing during the “summer” as we look with hope for the coming harvest! Summertime is preparation time!
Learning from Summer
The Christian can learn spiritual lessons from nearly every natural event and circumstance around him. Our discussion of summertime can be taken into our hearts and we can meditate on it with spiritual benefit. Or we can fail to learn these lessons to our own spiritual detriment. Let us produce fruit now, let us grow in our spirit, let us persevere in our labors for Christ, let us endure hardship for the kingdom, and let us prepare for the eternal future! Let us learn from these summer days!