It is Spring, the time for seeing new life. We spend time weeding, pruning, and maintaining our gardens with the hope of seeing the plants growing and producing. Likewise, in our lives, God desires for us to put the effort in allowing Him to work in our lives (weeding, pruning, maintenance) so that we can grow and produce.
I like to compare the Christian life to the moving sidewalks you find at the Airport. Living for Christ is moving against the grain of the world, so that it requires much effort to make forward progress. As soon as you slow down or stop, then you move backwards! Growing is a compulsory component of living for Christ! 1 Samuel 2:26 describes the boy Samuel growing up, which put him in both God’s good books, and the people’s good graces. This growth involved all three aspects of his life: spiritual, emotional, and physical. Sound familiar? It should. Jesus Christ also grew up (Luke 2:40). The apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:18) instructs the believers who call themselves Christians to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Grace is the free gift of God that permits us to have a personal relationship with Him, saving us from our sins. Knowledge of our Lord and Saviour helps us get to know the one who provided the gift of grace. Paul goes further in Ephesians (4:15-16), declaring the need for love and unity to grow as a collective group, the body of Christ.
How does a plant grow?
1. Rooted to the source of nutrients (food and water). We need to be ‘stuck’ to the vine. Jesus told His followers, “I am the vine, and you are the branches.” (John 15:1-8) In order to be a productive branch, you need to stay connected. This is the only way that the food you need can flow into you, providing what is necessary for growth. A dusty Bible is a sign of a disconnected branch.
2. Taking in the nutrients. We need to feed on God’s word, also spending time with Him in prayer. 1 Peter 2:2 reminds us that we must desire to hear from God as much as (if not more than) an infant crying for milk. The Psalmist describes it as a deer panting for water from the streams. How much do you long for spiritual food? Do you spend as much time feeding your spiritual being as you do your physical being?
3. Producing fruit. A plant that doesn’t produce is cut down and destroyed! This is the main purpose of the plant. Bearing fruit gives glory to the gardener (who is God), and makes the plant useful. We all want purpose in our lives, a reason to live. Well, this is it! The fruit we bear as Christians includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), witness, souls won for Christ, and holiness. Remember, it is the Spirit of God who produces this fruit in us, if we are rooted in Christ, and taking in the ‘nutrients,’ allowing Him to work in us.
Effort is important, but even more important is dependence and submission.
Make sure you are growing in your faith, accomplishing your mission for God!
Isaiah 40:28-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.