The right environment
'The godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.' Psalm 92:12 NLT
We know we're supposed to make new people feel welcome. But sometimes, especially when we're with people we know well, we can be wary of letting new people join in. Usually it's because we fear they'll upset the balance of our group or challenge the way we've always done things. When we feel that way, we can't create a truly welcoming and nurturing environment that encourages people to grow in their faith.
In the Bible, many verses talk about trees. Psalm 52:8 (NLT) says, 'I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God.' Psalm 92:12 (NLT) tells us, 'The godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.' Psalm 128:1-3 (ESV) compares families to trees: 'Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways!...Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.' In the optimal environment, trees don't need much coaxing or special care to grow; they'll have the best opportunity to thrive and become strong and fruitful.
And we need to create the right environment wherever we are, so that people who come into it experience God's love in action. If we resolve to see new people the same way that God sees them - precious, loved and full of potential - we'll create an environment where everyone can thrive and grow in faith, strength and confidence.
So what now? Next time you meet someone new, make a conscious effort to welcome them and see them as God sees them.
Soulfood: Neh 1-4 Lk 21:12-24 Ps 78:17-31 Pro 23:26-28,