Life is Not in the Fruit
I will begin this blog with what my fifteen year-old daughter shared with me yesterday.
I had an inspirational thought that I've been thinking about for the past couple of days. But instead of telling you about it in the order in which I thought it, I'm going to tell you the sequence in a backwards progression. At first, you're going to think something is wrong with my thinking, but listen to all of it before you decide.
I don't want to be a servant of God. I don't want to speak for God, sing for God, or minister for God. I don't want to be a person other people look up to. I don't want to be any kind of servant of God. That is, I don't want to be any kind of servant of God if my relationship with God is not what it should be.
We get fixated on the idea of serving God, but we should be focused on having a relationship with Him. In the beginning, when God made us, He made us to have relationship. That's it. Therefore, before we do anything else, we must start with having a relationship with Him. That should be the priority.
You can serve God and not live for Him. But read I Corinthians 13:2-3. It says, "And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing" (ESV)
God is love and relationship with Him must be first in my life before anything else. If He is not, none of what I could ever do for Him will matter.
Needless to say, it is a joy to witness what God is doing in my daughter’s life.
I wrote about bearing fruit in my last blog, “Crushing Acorns,” and I referenced the following scriptures.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24, ESV).
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV).
In my reference to these scriptures I made the point that the fruit of the Spirit is developed in me not for my own personal enhancement but for the sake of offering life outside of myself. I also stated that to offer life to others I must first die to my own selfish desires.
When I completed my “Crushing Acorns” blog the topic wasn’t settled in my spirit. Though I do believe what I stated—bearing fruit is not about my personal enhancement; it’s about me dying to give life—there is more to it. What my daughter shared with me is in line with what I have been thinking about for the past several days.
I believe developing spiritual fruit makes me a better person. But I don’t believe my personal enhancement is where it is meant to end. Part of my betterment process includes my coming to the place where I give out of what makes me better. I must receive life if I am to give life, but I also must give life after I receive it. For the fruit bearing process to fulfill its complete purpose, I must do both—grow fruit in my own life then give life to others out of that fruit. So it’s not just about me; it’s about others, too. But before I can either receive life or give life I must first consider the source of this life I receive and give.
How do I produce and maintain spiritual fruit? I don’t have the ability in myself to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle or full of self-control. Though I might be able to act like I’m full of the fruit of the Spirit for a little while by myself, the minute trouble comes my way my ego takes over and I start trying to preserve my own life rather than give life to others. I become hateful, depressed, disagreeable, impatient, unkind, evil, impervious and out of control.
Jesus said, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5, ESV).
I cannot give what I do not have. I must receive life before I can give life. To receive life, I have to go to the life source. Life is not in the fruit. Life is in the Vine.