few years ago in the early spring, we enjoyed a visit with our daughter Alesa and two of our grandchildren. On this occasion, our granddaughter Grace brought me a package of sunflower seeds and asked if we could plant them. Since I had never planted this particular flower in my garden, I was somewhat reluctant, but as you probably know, granddaughters have a built in power of persuasion. Therefore, we planted a row of sunflower seeds across the garden.
I told her as we buried these seed beneath the soil that she would not be there to see the flowers. Her reply, “That’s all right! You can send me some pictures.” There was no doubt in her mind that the hidden seeds would produce beautiful flowers to be photographed.
Well, she was right! A few days later these flowers began to grow and in a matter of weeks they had surpassed my height and continued to climb. Eventually they towered around twelve feet high with large beautiful yellow flowers smiling at the sun.
While I watched them grow and admired the finished product, I thought of what Jesus said about the lilies of the field. As He looked at their beauty and splendor, He was reminded of the One who designed and sustains them. Therefore, from these beautiful lilies, He taught a powerful lesson on the subject, “Why Should You Worry?”
"So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Mt. 6:28,29).
In this article, I would like to follow Jesus’ example of teaching, by using the characteristics of the sunflower to teach some spiritual principles. May these thoughts bring a blessing to your heart.
I could have lived my life without ever growing beautiful sunflowers if it had not been for a seven-year-old girl directing me. Sometimes we forget the important lessons that can be learned from children. However, the word of God speaks of the child often.
When Isaiah foretold the reign of Jesse’s offspring, among the figures used to describe a successful reign, he said, “And a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). Since children are so young and inexperienced, we may feel that we cannot learn anything from them. My friends, this is so wrong, because ONLY innocent children can teach some important lessons. Like the child who misquoted Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd, and that’s all I want.” This became a way of expressing a simple truth, but it is a truth needed by all.
Then there was the little boy who said to his mother when he saw a big flash of lightening, “Mommy, Mommy, God just took my picture!” Even though little children may get things somewhat confused, there is nothing lacking in their closeness to God. Truly we can learn many beautiful and simple truths from them.
Jesus recognized the important lessons that can be learned from children when He, “called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Mt. 18:2,3). How did Jesus really feel about these children? He wanted all to receive His kingdom as a little child, "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Lk. 18:17).
Therefore, let us open our eyes to the many beautiful lessons that can be learned from our children. May God help us to see the need to guide them through their innocent years so that they will want to faithfully serve Him.
One of the first lessons learned from the sunflower was its rapid growth as it stood tall and stately toward the sky. Some flowers run on the grown or climb on other things for support, but not so with the sunflower! It has a stem strong enough to support itself so that it can stand erect while growing upward toward heaven.
Are we like this as Christians? Do we place full faith and trust in the Lord and then stand tall for Him? Or do we lean on human support as we live our daily lives? Even though we can strengthen each other and pray for one another, our real strength and wisdom must come from above. As James wrote:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 1:5; 3:17).
Many babes in Christ wilt and spiritually die because they do not grow rapidly. Thus, they never achieve the goal of standing tall because of a failure to grow. The apostle Peter emphasized (in his writings) the importance of Christian growth, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,...but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever” (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18).
Each church has those who grow like the sunflower. They are hungering and thirsting for righteousness and are being filled (Matthew 5:6). They attend every Bible class possible, and have studied their lesson before each class. These make every effort to participate in class discussions, and ask questions during and after class to learn more about the subject. Week after week, like the sunflower, they reach toward the sky in growth. In only a few months, some of them will mature to the point of being able to teach others. Surely God is pleased with these, and sees them as a healthy sunflower reaching toward the heavens.
As the sunflower grows to greater height and strength, it displays its God-given beauty. It parades a large circle of brown seeds that is encircled with brilliant yellow-orange petals. The sunflower does not hide its beauty, but displays an eloquent splendor for all to see.
The same God who made the sunflower to exhibit such beauty, also made the beauty that is seen in the Christian life. He wants the world to see the glory of Jesus through our lives. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord,” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Thus, Christians are God’s SONflowers displaying the beauty and splendor of Jesus. This is why we should never cover the light of Jesus with a bushel, but rather place it on a lampstand, (Matthew 5:15).
The sunflower seems to always turn its face toward the sun. In what direction do we turn our faces? Our lives? If it is not toward Jesus the light of the world, it is toward the devil and darkness. There is no beauty in the one who turns from Jesus to darkness!
Paul called upon Christians to: “cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12). Before becoming Christians, we are in darkness, but this darkness must be dispelled as we follow the spiritual Son. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). Can we honestly say that we are like the sunflower because we daily follow the light of Jesus?
The final lesson to consider from the sunflower is that its goal is to eventually provide food. The seeds from the sunflower are eaten by the birds, and toasted and eaten by man. Therefore, the sunflower renders a service to others.
As we live our lives for Jesus, we must be striving for the goal of serving others, and our ultimate goal is to reap the glories of heaven. We must never allow anyone or anything to take us away from this eternal dream. Remember, there is nothing on earth of a physical nature that is more important than gaining heaven. Jesus is preparing this special place, and we must grow faithfully and serve Him until harvest time (John 14:1-3). Then we will be among those who hear the joyful words that Jesus applied to a faithful servant, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23). At this point, our harvest will be as delightful as the harvest of the sunflower.
The next time you admire the sunflower, it is hoped that you will remember some of its characteristics that can be applied to our lives as Christians. Please allow this tiny part of God’s creation to teach you more about God and how to live for Him. —BBBristow