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Withering Souls
 
"There is nothing for a broken off branch to do but wither and die." - Robertson's Word Pictures
"A branch cut off withers. So of a soul unconnected with Christ..." - Barnes' Notes
 
"All the Lord's trees are evergreen."
- D.L. Moody
 
Psalm 1:3 describes the happy and prosperous man whose profession of faith is always regular and unsullied - preserved from blemish and decay. He is separated from sin and separated to the Scriptures. His faith is followed up with works. His spiritual life is not subject to cyclical changes but enjoys a continuous inner revival - never losing its beauty or fruitfulness - always like the trees which are green and flourishing.
 
One way that this particular verse describes this man is by saying that - "...his leaf also shall not wither..."
 
When you read this particular portion of Scripture, what image comes to mind?
How about imagining the reverse picture where the leaves on a plant are drooping, wilting, fading, or shriveling?
 
The Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines "wither" as - "to become dry and sapless...to shrivel from or as if from loss of bodily moisture...and to lose vitality, force, or freshness." Strong's and Brown-Driver-Briggs' define it as - "to drop down...languish...fade...droop... and faint."
 
Think about what is being said here.
 
The man who "walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful" but delights "in the law of the LORD" and meditates in this law "day and night" is likened to a "tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper"(Psalm 1:1-3).
 
"His leaf" does not become dry and sapless...shrivel from lack of moisture...lose vitality, force, or freshness...drop down...fade...or droop.
 
O Saint of God, does this describe the kind of Christian that you are? When people come around you, can they feel the life, power, or freshness of the Holy Spirit operating in and through your life? Or do they always sense a drooping, heavy, discouraged, defeated, depressed, negative, critical, complaining, or bitter spirit?  
 
The Bible talks much about the withering process. Let's look into each example depicted below to see what lessons we can derive from our study. Prayerfully, if you are finding yourself to be a "Withering Christian" instead of a "Flourishing One," you will obtain the key for change and make the necessary adjustments.
 
In Psalm 37:1, David starts off by talking about the "evildoer." He warns all believers not to "be...envious against the workers of iniquity." Why does he say this? He offers his explanation in verse 2 - "For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb." Oftentimes, the wicked will prosper and flourish for a time. They will increase in honor and riches. But it is only short-lived. For all of their "glory" will wither like hay when they come under the wrath and judgment of God. When they are "soon" cut down by the hand of the Almighty, their spectacular careers fade, dry up, and disappear. 
 
In Matthew 13:5-6, the Lord Jesus described the hearts of some whose "soil" was like "stony places" - having "not much earth"..."no deepness of earth"...and "no root." In verse 6, He then related their final result - "...and because they had no root, they withered away." These hearts are likened unto soil that lacks moisture. It is so hard and shallow. The "seed" of the Word can only penetrate the surface. Because they are not rooted in Him nor in His love and lack the moisture of Divine Grace along with the dews and waterings of the Holy Spirit, they soon "wither away." They do not allow their roots to grow deep enough into a total dependency on Him. Nor do they allow their will to become firmly resolved in the direction of the settled and fixed principles of the Word or their affections to become rooted in habits of holiness. The Scriptures only have place in their heads but not in their hearts.
 
In Matthew 21:19, we find the account of the Lord Jesus cursing the "Fig Tree" - "And when He saw a fig tree in the way, He came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away." In this particular case, the "fig tree" represented Israel. However, it can represent anyone who professes Christianity but shows forth barren words and empty boasts...whose soul continues in unfruitfulness...the influence of grace is removed from his life...and has only an outward show of religion. Basically, this spiritual withering from the roots up can happen to anyone who - whether deliberately or through a lack of abiding - rejects Christ and in turn is rejected of Him.
                                                                                                                                    
In John 15:4-6, the Lord Jesus spoke of the importance of every believer "abiding in the Vine" when He said - "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." The branch that abides in the Vine draws all of its life and nourishment from it. Even so, the believer who remains united to Jesus by a living faith - living a life of dependency on Him... obeying His doctrines...imitating His example...and constantly exercising faith in Him - "brings forth much fruit." He who - through prayerlessness and carelessness gets out of touch with the Lord - dries up and withers. His zeal languishes and his love for God and men slips away. He loses the urgency of staying in the Word and prayer daily...becomes deplete of all influences of God's grace and Spirit...forsakes worship and the fellowship with other believers...loses all heavenly unction...and becomes indifferent, cold, and dead to the things of God.  
                                                                                                             
Lastly, we read in Jude 4 of "ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness." In Jude 12, they are further described as - "...trees whose fruit withereth..." Actually, the Apostle Jude was referring to the trees of late or waning autumn which no longer have leaves or fruit. They are stripped and bare. They would be likened to those believers who began in the Spirit but ended up in the flesh. The capacity to bear fruit is extinct within them - simply because they have no life coming from Christ.
 
D.L. Moody said - "All the Lord's trees are evergreen."
 
But, as we all know, not all those professing to be "trees" are evergreen. Nor do they always remain evergreen.
 
The evildoer - "... withers as the green herb."
Those whose hearts are as rocky ground - having no depth of earth...a lack of moisture...and no root - wither away.
Those who have only an outward show of religion - with barren words and empty boasts and lack any spiritual fruit in their lives - wither away.
Those who get out of touch with God through carelessness and prayerlessness begin to wither away - spiritually speaking.
And all False Teachers or Preachers - who attempt to twist the Scriptures by making the "narrow way" of Holiness broad - wither away as a stripped and bare autumn tree.
 
"All the Lord's trees are evergreen."
 
Since what D.L. Moody said was indeed a fact, then how do you explain the dryness...saplessness...and lack of vitality, force, and freshness in your spiritual walk? Why are you considered by others to be a "drooping" Christian - one who lacks the joy of the Lord and is always "down in the dumps"?  
 
You can stop the withering process right now. You don't have to die spiritually. You can overflow with life - eternal life.
 
How do you do it?
 
By repenting of all sin and the works of the flesh and by getting back in tune with Jesus Who is your source of strength and life.
 
Never forget - "A branch cut off withers. So of a soul unconnected with Christ..."
 
May God Bless His Word.
Connie
 

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