Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Fruit or results?

 Childlikeness is the absence of self awareness. We need more of this in our lives. As we grow in knowledge, this quality often diminishes. We learn what patience looks like, what it means to love our enemies, to be humble, to have self control and so on. Then to grow in these virtues we often zealously apply the principles of these virtues according to the knowledge we have of them. We become aware and satisfied with our accomplishments. Yet, what often such efforts produce is results, not fruit. Such results are often tainted with flesh and impurities. We often fail to attain a perfect and consistent patience, charity, humbleness, self control, etc, and muster up all of the determination and faith we can to strive against our fears, discouragements, and despair so that we can justify our efforts and secure a form of peace by means of striving, instead of focusing all of our powers and energies to feed upon the bread of Life, drawing near to Him, and drinking in of His Spirit through a quiet listening heart, which, if we would only surrender to pursue Jesus Christ, and not merely His Divine attributes, then His attributes would not be a matter of striving, but of consequence. 

Unfortunately, many believers have deceived themselves thinking they have fruit when they have achieved results. "Love suffers long and is kind". Many have labored for His names sake without being patient and kind. "Love doesn't parade itself and is not puffed up". The efforts of many does not express their love for the Lord. Their hardened hearts do not perceive their vanity, for their eyes are fastened to the results. They perform many works but have little to no fruit. 

We know what God's sacrificial love looks like so we can give all we have to the poor and even our bodies to burned, but without love our efforts are nothing but a zealous pursuit to express that we know what God's sacrificial love looks like and to proclaim our willingness to imitate it. Such efforts will never produce any fruit which will abide in eternity, for such efforts "profit us nothing". 

Jesus said, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned". 

Jesus did not tell His disciples to remember everything He did and commanded, and then to imitate it! He told them to abide in Him. Apart from this we cannot bear fruit or do anything! What does it mean to abide in Him? This secret is plainly unveiled to us through His abiding in His Father! Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19), He did not speak on His own authority (John 12:49), He lived in perfect daily communion with His Father and was entirely devoted to doing His Father's will. Jesus said, "He who sent Me is with Me; the Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him" (John 8:29). He said, "Father I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work You have given Me to do" (John 17). 

We need to lay our hearts, minds, souls, strength and lives entirely before the Lord each day in dependence upon Him as if His words were altogether true, "Apart from Me you can do nothing". We need His presence, His favor, His life, His wisdom, His counsel, His guidance, His power. We need Him! He is everything. We have all that we need when we have Him. Not just a touch from the past but an ever vibrant living reality of us abiding in Him and He in us! 

As we humble ourselves, may God graciously exalt us into His presence so that all consciousness of self is lost in wonder of Him! This is a great protection against pride. Sometimes our battle is to stand still and behold the salvation of God!  

Branches bud and blossom and produce perfect fruit when they daily drink from the Vine. One touch or visitation from the Savior is worth far more than an infinite striving that can only produce results. 

In His presence is fullness of joy! Not just joy but the fullness of it! Many are so weary in well doing because they are laboring without the presence of God. That joy is the strength of the Christian life! Without humility however, we cannot experience true Christian joy, for pride sets the soul at a distance from the presence of God. God opposes the proud but He gives grace to the humble. It is grace that exalts man into the favorable presence of God in which there is fullness of joy! Humility therefore is the strength of the Christian life.

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“Reason dictates that persons who are truly noble and who love wisdom will honor and love only what is true. They will refuse to follow traditional viewpoints if those viewpoints are worthless...Instead, a person who genuinely loves truth must choose to do and speak what is true, even if he is threatened with death...I have not come to flatter you by this written petition, nor to impress you by my words. I have come to simply beg that you do not pass judgment until you have made an accurate and thorough investigation. Your investigation must be free of prejudice, hearsay, and any desire to please the superstitious crowds. As for us, we are convinced that you can inflict no lasting evil on us. We can only do it to ourselves by proving to be wicked people. You can kill us—but you cannot harm us.” From Justin Martyr's first apology 150 A.D. Martyred A.D. 160