Redbud blossoms. Photo by Sheila Brown, Public Domain CC0

Sometimes nature can be a bit unpredictable—things happen in an order we wouldn’t expect.

Normally, plants put forth leaves long before they produce flowers.

But some trees and shrubs flip the script, so to speak.

With certain plants, the normal sequence is reversed: the flowers come first, before the leaves have developed.

A good example is the beautiful redbud tree. It puts forth gorgeous pink flowers on its bare branches in early spring, when none of its leaves are yet in sight.

The forsythia shrub bears its bright yellow flowers in advance of its leaves, and the lovely magnolia presents its pink or white blooms before the green foliage appears. Some maples and oaks also exhibit this flower-first behaviour, although with less showy blossoms.

All of these plants give us a treat in springtime when we’re starved for colour. We get the flower first without having to wait for the leaves.

Why do some plants reverse the normal order of things?

Some trees are wind-pollinated, so put forth flowers before their bulky leaves get in the way. The same goes for flowers that need extra sunlight. Other plants produce a mass of conspicuous flowers first, unobscured by leaves, to better attract the attention of pollinating insects.

Did you know that God also flipped the script and gave us the flower first, so to speak?

In life, we’re used to things happening in a certain order. In the normal course of events, you do something first, and then a verdict is reached on your performance.

This is how it happens in school and the working world. You complete your studies and write your exams, and receive a grade afterward. You work at your job and do your duties, and a performance review comes later.

Even many religions expect you to conform to a set of behaviours for a while, or even a lifetime, before the deity will accept you.

But not Jesus. He does it in the reverse order.

Once you accept His atoning work on the Cross, a verdict is proclaimed upon you before your performance. God views you as being as sinless as Jesus was, even though you’re nowhere near perfection, and in fact will never achieve it.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)

God gave us this tremendous gift of forgiveness and redemption not after we’d reached an acceptable level of behaviour, but before, while we were still sinners.

Who does that? It seems backwards to our minds. Do teachers give you an “A plus” at the start of the school year, before you’ve written any tests? Does your boss give you a raise and a glowing review after your first day on the job?

No one but our Heavenly Father is so extravagantly generous and loving!

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

In Christianity, our performance flows from the verdict, not vice versa:

We’re forgiven and made right with God through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross on our behalf; in Him we become the righteousness of God. That’s the verdict: it comes first.

In gratitude for this undeserved gift, we want to please God. So we love Him, obey His word and model Christ’s love to the world. The performance comes as a result of the verdict.

God did the unexpected and gave us the flower first!

© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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