Flourishing. Flourishing is defined as growing vigorously, being prosperous, and or thriving. We have our perspectives on what flourishing looks like specifically for us. Often it is simply our perception of having enough of what we want. So we need to consider what we want as opposed to what we really need to survive and to flourish. Romans 14:17 gives us a glimmer of what flourishing requires.
“For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:7
What do we want? Most would consider having our basic needs met as essential, that is: food,water, sex, shelter, clothing and safety. Sex, for our purposes, happens within the boundaries of marriage. Do we really need anything more than that for basic needs? Perhaps, but I will not address that here. Having basic needs being met seems to be enough to keep us and the species alive. But does having basic needs met guarantee flourishing? While they are essential to warding off death and sickness, they do not guarantee thriving in this Earthly kingdom, let alone God’s Kingdom. But they certainly are still important. What basic needs do you struggle with, either too much or too little? Do you think your perceptions are accurate? Are there things you crave that are not even a need? Perhaps ask a trusted friend, pastor or spouse to obtain an outside perspective.
Flourishing in God’s Kingdom is not solely about food, drink, pleasure or basic needs. Those things are not sinful if they are in proper order, but they don’t bring flourishing by themselves. Well what does? Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit seem to be what is required for flourishing in God’s Kingdom. ( or perhaps they are evidence of living in His Kingdom.). Most of us have an idea about what we need to do to meet our basic needs whether we actually do meet them or not. But I think most of us are not as clear about what we need to do to obtain righteousness, peace and joy. How do you think you are doing in these areas of righteousness, peace and joy? I know I too often want to settle for a false peace instead of doing the sometimes hard work of true peace.
Obtaining righteousness, peace and joy begins at salvation and continues to grow as we take up our cross daily, lay down our lives and purposes, and seek His will and purposes. Righteousness comes by faith, but needs to be walked out and developed in action. Peace passes understanding, and it guards our hearts and minds as we present our prayers and petitions to God as we encounter struggles and suffering. Joy in the Holy Spirit I think comes by abiding in Him and by paying attention to what He is doing in us and around us individually and communally. Regular Bible reading and prayer are necessary. And don’t forget He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us into all Truth. Pray in the Spirit, seek the Spirit. Why do our actions that develop true righteousness, real peace and full joy often take the back seat to counterfeit activities that not only don’t lead to developing them and flourishing, but are counterproductive to that end?
I realize this is fairly general, but if I were to go into detail, well then you would have many pages to read. My encouragement to all of us is to press in specifically to how this may help you flourish. What are the current needs you are focused on that seem challenging to obtain or maintain? What about the non-needs you crave. Are you overly focused on these needs or wants, leading you to fear or anxiety, especially if resources begin to seem scarce? Do you spend time and effort attempting to develop righteousness, peace and joy? Time in the Word? Time in prayer? Time listening to the Spirit? Time in community with other believers? Get help if you need it.
I hope that in some way this will help us at least think about what it means to flourish a little more each day. May He give you what you truly need, not just what you think you want.