Flourishing and Fruitful
MARCH 27, 2021
by Susan Hunt
God gave the first man and woman a cultural mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). God’s equal but different image bearers had a monumental mission to fill the world with other image bearers who would reflect the glory of the Creator; instead, they listened to the destroyer. But God did not destroy them. He promised an offspring of the woman who would defeat the destroyer (Gen. 3:15). In response to this promise of life, Adam “called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20). Eve sounds like the Hebrew word for life-giver. Because of her sin, the woman became a life-taker. Because of the gospel of grace, she was declared to be a life-giver.
God’s redeemed daughters have the potential to be fruitful life-givers, not just biologically but spiritually, because the life of Christ is in us. Becoming a life-giver in our relationships and circumstances is a process of dying to self, so we decrease and Jesus increases and his life flows from us to bless others. This process does not get easier as we age. The temptations may change, but our need for repentance remains the same. When we nurse our disappointments and make children and grandchildren feel guilty for not visiting more, or brood over unmet expectations, or hold grudges for decades, roots of bitterness and unforgiveness grow and we become life-takers: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Heb. 12:15).
Perhaps you have heard an older woman say, “I’ve earned the right to say what I want to say,” and what follows usually hurts those around her. Hear what James has to say:
Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:16–18)
The words flourishing and fruitful are very similar. The Hebrew word for flourishing is parach, which means to bud, sprout, or blossom. The word for fruitful is parch, which means bearing fruit, flourishing, or increasing. The combination gives a rich and clear picture of God’s plan for his righteous ones in every season and circumstance of life. The word life-giver pulsates with the idea of flourishing and fruitful.
This gospel wonder is possible because of God’s grace. A righteous woman can therefore declare the following with her heart and lips.
“The Lord is upright” (Ps. 92:15). This speaks of God’s character, which assures us he will always do right. He will be true to every promise. He is perfect in his faithfulness. There is credibility in an older woman’s declaration that he never left her, even in her darkest places and times.
“He is my Rock.” Hannah declared. “There is none holy like the Lord: / for there is none besides you; / there is no rock like our God” (1 Sam. 2:2). The house built on the rock is not destroyed by floods and winds (Matt. 7:24–25). There is something profoundly persuasive about a woman weak and withered by age singing:
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.
“There is no unrighteousness in him.” If there was even a hint of unrighteousness in Christ, he could not be our righteousness. This is a declaration of confidence—not self-confidence but Christ-confidence. We declare that he is our dwelling place and we are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ.
Content taken from Aging with Grace by Sharon Betters and Susan Hunt, ©2021. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, crossway.org.
 Edward Mote, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less,” 1834.