Day Three

God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: plants yielding seeds according to their kinds,and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.” It was so. The land produced vegetation – plants yielding seeds according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. God saw that it was good. There was evening, and there was morning, a third day.
Genesis 1:11-13

Continuing on from His work in creating land, God now creates vegetation for the land. There are a few things to note here:

  • Vegetation was produced in abundance. There is a Hebrew word play here that gives us this idea, Genesis 1:11 reads “Let the earth sprout vegetation” (ESV). The word “sprout” (dasha – דשא) is the verb form of the word “vegetation” (deshe’ – דשא) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognate_object).
  • Vegetation didn’t evolve from one kind to have different species and kinds. Vegetation was created in abundance of variety. The emphesis on “according to their kinds” tells us that there were multiple kinds. Perhaps evolution could have happened from this point, who knows?
  • There was order, not chaos. God created a system of reproduction – plants yielding seeds that become plants. He also distinguished and defined different “kinds” of plants. We clearly see a defined variety of forms and beings of plants, each kind distinguishable from another and a system of reproduction.
  • Vegetation came out all over the earth. Although the text seems to read land as if it were only dry land (as opposed to the seabed), the word “land” here refers to the whole earth. It is the same word used in Genesis 1:1. That pretty much explains all the seaweeds and water plants as well.
  • Creation happened exactly as God desired and spoke. God spoke plants, plants came out. He spoke that they yielded seeds, and they did. He spoke that it was according to their kinds and it was so. Creation exists exactly according to God’s desires. Once again, stressing on God’s sovereignty.

In day three, we see something interesting about God (again). His creative powers are not limited to one a day, nor are they limited to one thing at a time. Our God is a limitless God. And at the end of the day, God again pronounced that creation was good. This is the second time in the day that He has pronounced His creation good. Good is the is an indication of the positive quality of what God created. Plants weren’t just plants, they were beneficial and fertile plants (Genesis 2:9).

Know me

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.
Luke 6:43-44

Flights always bring up a sense of dread in me. I know I probably wouldn’t die. I’m not aerophobic. But I have a deep respect that at 30,000 ft in the air, I am very much subject to the law of gravity. But it isn’t the law of gravity that makes it scary, death is but a passage. In the end, I am at the mercy of God both in life and in death.

Before every flight, my mental preparation is simple. I look to God with confidence, knowing that He loves and accepts me as His son. Then I ask myself “What is my legacy? What will I be remembered by? Where is my fruit? ”

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5

If I was to be known by anything, I would like to be known for God’s fruit in me. That I love God. I love my wife. And I love everyone around me.

τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια

“Gifting is from the Lord, but character you need to build yourself.”
– Pastor Tristan Siu

Looking through my notes, I stumbled across this interesting quote from one of my bestest friends. How true! Gifts (1 Corinthian 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, Exodus 31:1) by definition come free. However, character does not come cheap.

Fruit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:13-6:10 (22-23 quoted)

The best way I can think of that the bible describes character is in the Fruit of the Spirit. It is the most distinctive physical manifestation of a Christ-transformed life. It comes as a singular fruit, in the same way that character is seen – as an inherent complex of attributes that defines a person’s moral and ethical quality.

I am pretty sure durian is a Fruit of the Spirit as well. Source: Wikipedia

After an emotionally charged appeal to the Galatians not to return to the observance of Jewish law in all its religiousness and legalism (Galatians 5:1-12), he goes on to state what our new freedom means (Galatians 5:13-26, 6:1-6).

The opponent seems to shift from the law (Galatians 5:1-12) to the flesh (Galatians 5:13-26). But really, the law and flesh work together (Romans 8:3-4) to bring condemnation and death. The inability for the law to bring salvation is found in the weakness of our flesh. When we kneel at the altar to submit our lives to Jesus, our flesh is still sitting aside with folded arms.

In stating that “They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Galatians 5:17) Paul acknowledges the battle between our flesh and our spirit. Although Paul makes it sound like our default desire is to follow our flesh, he makes it clear later in verses 24-25 that our default has changed (Romans 8:4).

Sure, there is discipline involved in building character but it is not an enforced discipline (such as the law) but a discipline we subject ourselves to because we are free to and we already naturally do. Nothing is hard when you know that you’re already a natural at it and no one is forcing you to. Just like a favourite hobby!

Seeds
Much is at stake here with building character. Galatians 5:14 states that communities can destroy themselves. Much like the plot of the Lord of the Flies, civilisation will collapse into itself. The sobering truth is that if we are not careful, we “will be destroyed by each other.”. And even if I live as a hermit, I cannot escape the eventual consequence (Galatians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

This does not mean that our salvation is based on works. It simply says that character (fruit) reveals what is planted within. Galatians 6:8 makes the connection, skipping past fruits, it goes straight from seed to consequence: “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Our authentic faith in Christ is revealed partly by authentic Christian character – something that we ALREADY have (1 Corinthians 6:11).

All it takes is that the right seeds are planted and that we keep planting. That seed is simple: “… serve on another in lovelove your neighbour as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14) This love is none other than the love that is the nature of God which flows from Christ (1 John 4:8, Matthew 12:32-34).

“Plant an apple seed in a trash heap and it will not produce trash – the character is in the seed.”

Trying to harvest fruit without planting seeds is a painful experience. It is like pretending to eat imaginary food from an empty plate and expecting to be full. It is as good as lying to ourselves. Galatians 6:7 says “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” No sow, no reap, no harvest. If we do not love others, we are unlikely to be kind or gentle. If we do not love ourselves, we are unlikely to be joyful or peaceful. The principle works towards ourselves and towards others.

In practical terms, the seed to having great character looks like this in Galatians 6:9-10: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. I think we often misread two very key words, Paul said all people not other people. This means that we are entitled and responsible to be good to ourselves as well! It might not be easy, but Paul does include a very crucial tip: “Let us not become weary… do not give up.” And if that seems too difficult for you, don’t you worry. It is being done in us, for us – by the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10, Hebrews 13:21, 2 Thessalonians 1:11).