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 (Manna 10)
Lily among Thorns
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Lily among Thorns

            As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. (Song 2:2).

A lily is a beautiful flower loved by all. Thorns on the other hand, are hated and considered abominable. Many even regard them as symbols of wickedness and sin. Genesis 3:18 indicated how thorns and brambles appear after man sinned and fell. Therefore they are said to be present when a person sinned, when a home is iniquitous, and when the church is full of dissension and strife. Indeed, these spiritual thorns are widespread. Yet a lily, the symbol of a true believer, can still flourish, blossom and emit its pleasing fragrance in the midst of the brambles. The thorns will not endanger its survival. The lily is simple and pure. This is the reason why the Lord loves this simple, and yet elegant plant. In fact, being pure and sanctified is also the most important virtue required of a Christian. The Bible has clearly said, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Because of Adam, man had lost his purity and lived in sin and darkness. There was no hope at all. But Jesus come, and through His sacrifice on the cross men were again reconciled with God, sanctified and irreproachable (Col 1:22). As Isaiah has prophesied, “Though your sins be like scarlet; they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson; they shall become like wool.” (Is 1:18) After we repent and believe in the Lord, our sins are washed away by His blood and we are justified. But salvation does not end here. We must continue to work for it. Evil inclinations from the past, thoughts of wickedness, and the sin in the world can easily induce us to fall back into iniquity. Therefore, we must resolutely keep our hearts and minds free from evil thoughts, and our conduct pure from actions that may pollute our spirituality. The Lord warned us that our speech reflects what is in our heart, and this can defile a man because the heart is the source of evil thought, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, and slanders (Mt 15:18- 19). Hence Peter wrote and stressed the importance of holiness to his readers, “… be holy yourselves in all your conduct” (1 Pet 1:15).

Furthermore in our pursuit of holiness, we must not fall into the trap of the Pharisee, who prayed to God by extolling himself and all his virtues. He mistakenly thought that his deeds made him pure and righteous, when they, in fact, did not carry any power of justification before the Lord (Lk 18:11-14). Inwardly, he was selfish and egotistical, apparently giving the glory to God, but in reality, praising himself.

The second characteristic of the lily that is beloved by God is its fragrance. Every believer too must be filled with and emit the fragrance of Christ, which is His love, manifested in charity, hospitality, almsgiving, peace making, counseling, preaching, prayers, and more. This is why Paul reminds the Corinthians that they were the aroma of Christ, to emit their scent among those who were being saved and those who were perishing (2 Cor 2:15). As true Christians, we must keep this love within our hearts and give it freely to whomever we encounter. Only then, will we be worthy of the Lord.

Finally, the significance of the lily among thorns can be explained in two ways. Firstly, it emphasizes the importance of maintaining our purity in this defiled world (Jas 1:27). Secondly, it represents our ability to overcome all adversity in the course of our faith. Paul told Timothy, “Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). Yet a lily, gentle and beautiful, is able to thrive even among thorns. This simple illustration comforts the believers in the end time in that, we too, with the grace of God, can grow in the Faith even under the most adverse circumstances.

We live in a wicked world full of dangers. The Church may from time to time encounter difficulties. But the teaching from the lily tells us that we need not despair, because we shall overcome all things with love, forbearance, and the power of Christ. The grace of God is indeed sufficient, and we will grow strong and survive, as a lily among thorns.

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