READING: Gen 2v 4-17

Choice: Obedience or disobedience. The human character is tested and true character revealed.

Garden of Eden a perfect place for perfect mankind until.... human character failed the test.

Today we have some very good gardens, not perfect but lovely places of peace, calm and beauty.

Read garden Poem.

Today Talk about Roses

Heard Saying? People are like roses? You've Heard it now!

Many kinds of roses each with its own character. So too with people.

Question for today - Which kind of Rose are You?

WILD ROSES; untamed, spead everywhere, send up shoots all over the place. In the right place, in hedgerows, they look good when in flower but the flower season’s soon past.
But they’re very prickly characters if you get caught up with them!

Maybe they have a slight perfume that gives some attraction, but did you know they can fool you?
Pick a leaf of many rose varieties, squeeze it in your fingers, what do you smell? Roses? No Apples!!!

How many people could we meet that are like that? They appear good and even beautiful for a short while, but soon their beauty and fragrance fade, and their true character comes to the fore.

They’ll catch you up with their prickly character, they’ll fool you with their “apple leaf scent”, they’ll send up their shoots all through your life, and they’ll take you over, given the chance.

Who are these? The people who live only for self. Often to the cost of everyone else. Most are not Christians, but sadly a few Christians have missed the mark and still behave in a selfish manner. They have not yet learned the true values of the life truly surrendered to the way of Christ.

There is no place for the untrained and untamed wild rose in the garden. How much of the wild rose character remains in us? Is it very little?

CULTIVATED ROSES - Here we learn a vital lesson.

When a cultivated rose is grafted, it is grafted onto a wild rose root stock!!

Is that not a picture of our Christian conversion. God starts with us as we are, or were. The wild rose of our old unchristian nature remains, but at conversion God grafts a new nature into our being.
Without constant training and pruning, our old wild rose nature will reassert itself from our deep rooted old nature   and up come the suckers of sin again, out sprout the thorns of selfishness, and pretty soon the wild rose has re-established itself and choked out the cultivated graft.

Just as Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, and allowed self to rule instead of God; so it can be in our lives that the wild rose nature stifles the cultivated beauty of Christian life in us.

Many kinds of cultivated roses. Hundreds maybe thousands worldwide.

Let's pick a few and look into their character - see the parallels in the character or our lives.

There are rambling roses that like to spread all over the place. There’s climbers that are not so vigourous, but still like to climb trellis and fences; there’s the old fashioned bush roses that are relatively compact and flower all through the season; there’s the hybrid roses that have massive eye catching blooms; there’s miniature roses for containers and to go on your patio, and so many more we could be here for hours just listing and describing them.

Lets just take four examples:

At the back of my shed there’s Pink Perpetue.

Why is it hidden at the back of my shed? Its colour!! It’s really bright, glaring, in your face kind of characteristic. It has a light perfume, but the colour is the dominant thing that immediately catches attention.

Back of the shed because of this attention grabbing characteristic.

How many people do you know like this? They grab your attention by their flamboyant appearance or manner or lifestyle. Some Christians are like this too, often without realising it they gain attention by some outward show .

New Dawn. Here’s a lovely rose at first appearance. Beautiful shell pink flowers with a delicate perfume. Ah, wonderful until you go to pick it!

Ouch, its thorny and viscious!

Approach and touch this rose with care, use gloves and a light touch and all is well; but approach it in the wrong way and boy you know all about it!

How does this correspond to human character? Some people are just like New Dawn; approach them in the wrong way and ............... ouch!

In Proverbs we're told that a soft or kind word turns away anger. We’re also told to be slow to anger and swift to forgive.

No thorns in us and a kind word to help those who still struggle with the thorns of anger in their lives.

Over our Arbour rambles a rose called Goldfinch. Myriads of small golden yellow blooms in the spring, slightly scented, a beauty to the senses when its mature, a spectacle to see. great bonus; no thorns!

A placid kind of character, not intrusive but quietly beautiful. Is that not the kind of character we can strive to have? To bring joy and pleasure to others who might be in need of peace and clam and cheer?

The only minus point to Goldfinch, is that it only flowers for a season and once the flowers fade it has little beauty until a few weeks in the next year.

Do we tend to blossom as Christians only for a period and then fade away? Do we tend to have our moments of usefulness and beauty but they’re not sustained? Truly Goldfinch approaches the good character we need to cultivate but it’s not quite reached prefection.

Close to the Patio growing out of the top of the low wall is a rose called Little White Pet. It’s a miniature rose. Red buds opening to white flowers. It flowers all through the summer in profusion but because it's small it could go unnoticed.

Many Christians are like that, they live beautiful lives almost constantly, but because they are quiet and maybe not too confident characters they don’t stand out and are sadly often not noticed by everyone. But they're noticed by those whose lives they touch in a special way. Perhaps through their constant praying, their work behind the scenes out of sight, their personal caring ministries that they might simply call their “employment” or what “everyone would do in the circumstances”.

Ah yes! Little White Pet does have some prickles, but then don’t we all at times get a little prickly over a few things. But these thorns are small and less intimidating than those of the big roses, so they pass by as small imperfections of character that we all have to work out in our lives.

In our garden there is a rose called Compassion.

Here’s the one that has it all! Beautiful large blooms of Apricot, peach and pink shades all summer long; strongly scented; and even the name sounds comforting and right. It's not quite perfect though; for there are still the thorns that characterise most roses.

It doesn’t shout for attention but quietly and serenly beckons the eye. Its fragrance is sweet but not overpowering; it doesn't spread so rapidly that it takes over the whole garden like some roses. Its thorns are there but with just a little care they are not a big problem.

Compassion typifies the real Christian character. As we grow in our Christian life and character we can display more and more the beauty of Christ, become the sweet smelling fragrance of Christ, not be overpowering or intimidating to others; and our thorns of the old wild rose nature are no longer in control and diminishing in their power to hurt others and ourselves.

So from the lessons given by the roses about our character the question returns - Which kind of rose are you? Which kind do you aspire to be?

Read Song 5v9-16

What can we do? Read Phil 4v4-8

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