“for each tree is known by its fruit…” [luke 6:44]
This summer, I’ve thought a lot about this idea of “bearing fruit.” And honestly, I have felt burdened at times. I want to be the good tree, who out of the good treasure of my heart produces good…(mmm so much goodness). I want to imitate Christ in the way I selflessly love my younger sister and my parents. I want to volunteer at GenerateHope with a sense of purpose. I want to love the kids I babysit with a love that is rooted in Christ. I want to set a good example for the junior high and high school students. I so badly want to see fruit. And when I don’t see fruit right away, I feel burdened. I so easily take on the task of changing people…a responsibility which rightfully belongs to the Lord alone.
A good friend of mine recently gave me a book called “Almost Christian,” which looks at the faith of American teenagers. The book rocked me (or more accurately…the Holy Spirit rocked me via this book). I’ll share a few nuggets that really challenged me, specifically related to this idea of bearing fruit and witnessing to others.
- “Only the Holy Spirit ignites faith, transforming human effort into holy fire that comes roaring into our lives at the first hint of welcome, insistent on igniting us, sharing us, and being shared…Fires spread, not according to plan but according to the availability of combustible timber.”
- “In the fruits of the Spirit we offer Christ to others, not some holier version of ourselves.”
- “Faith does not mean mimicking Jesus, but participating in his self-giving love—not because we have somehow chosen to be like him, but because, incredibly, God has chosen to become like us.”
- “What awakens faith is desire, not information, and what awakens desire is a person—and specifically a person who accepts us unconditionally, as God accepts us.”
The key to bearing fruit is not human effort. The key is Christ. I love when Paul says, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives growth” [1 Corinthians 3:7]. I know this truth. I’ve heard it time and again. But God loves to humble me and remind me of this on a consistent basis. I think that’s why He had me at home this summer. I’ve experienced a lot of heartbreak and brokenness, but I’ve experienced His grace far more.
Thank you, Lord, that you choose to use me, a sinner. Thank you that I don’t have to change people. Thank you for gradually removing this burden from me. You are worthy of all praise, Abba.