Pure and Fresh
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).
There is a difference between the fruit produced from my abiding alone and the fruit produced from my abiding in Him. The first is stinking and rotten, and the latter is pure and fresh. It's the difference between being a death-gifter or a life-gifter.
I am asking myself why I even try abiding alone. The reason is clear. My human nature makes abiding in Him difficult because, when controlled by my ego, I would rather do what is easy and egocentric. I would rather feed my flesh!
It takes my intentional effort to maintain relationship with Him. II Peter 1:5-8 illustrates a few examples of what the act of abiding in Him looks like.
“…make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
In other words, abiding in Him involves the effort of becoming complete in Him.
I must complete my faith, or my trust and confidence in Him, with moral, right, honorable, decent, and ethical behavior. (Virtue)
I must complete my virtue by learning of Him through personal experiences with Him. (Knowledge)
I must complete my knowledge through self-discipline, restraint, composure, moderation, and temperance. (Self-Control)
I must complete my self-control through devotion, loyalty, and unwavering belief in Him. (Steadfastness)
I must complete my steadfastness with purity, holiness, and sanctity. (Godliness)
I must complete my godliness by showing charity and benevolence towards my fellow man as a brother or sister. (Brotherly Affection)
And I must complete my brotherly affection with intense, deep, and intimate affection towards Him. (Love)
I've noticed myself, when I don't make much effort towards my relationship with Him, I become comfortable with being full of myself. He moves Himself to within my reach and makes Himself accessible. He positions Himself as close to me as the mention of His name. He stands next to me, follows me, and watches as I bump Him and skirt around Him as if I haven’t noticed His presence. And when I leave Him uninvited to participate in my life, I find myself to be most lacking. Simply put, without Him, I become a stinking rotten mess! (Consider Galatians 5:19-21.)
But when I do make the effort, He is easy to engage. And the result of my engagement with Him is life filled with the fruit of His Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (See Galatians 5:22-23.) And it's pure fresh fruit—the kind worth offering to others.