Read His Words Before Ours!
Most summers, our deck sports several pots of green, growing plants, much to the annoyance of my husband who insists that decks are for grills and hammocks. Period. It also *might* annoy him that I don’t exactly water them like, all the time, some of them *might* be more brown than green, and, at the end of the season some pots *might* stay there all winter with brown sticks poking through the snow. Possibly. In theory.
But I digress…
This summer as tiny pepper shoots were reaching for the sky, my 5 year old family comedian began spontaneously laughing while studying the small green sprigs. When I asked him what was so funny, he said he was just thinking about a big green pepper growing off that little sprout and tipping over the whole plant. We laughed together at imaginary picture, but the plant analogy stuck with me. That “comic-strip-episode” in my son’s mind would never happen because the Creator designed for the plant to be mature enough to bear fruit at each stage until finally, both plant and fruit are fully ripe.
Turns out, this plant analogy was something Jesus was pretty fond of as well. Perhaps He had giggled at the same thought when he was 5.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2
This, my sisters, is sanctification.
Unlike justification and salvation, which are a one and done deal when we cross the line of faith, sanctification lasts our entire life….and it’s a whole lot like a plant.
When someone says yes to Jesus’ offer of salvation, we are made new from the inside out. Our green tip has just sprouted through the dark soil.
We look different, we’ve been re-born, but we certainly don’t have any blossoms, let alone fruit; pretty much all we’re capable of doing is consuming nutrients and growing.
Last week my son asked if there was an un-forgivable sin. Some of his friends were saying that if he did such and such, God wouldn’t forgive him and he would be condemned to hell. Perhaps this question has haunted you in some fashion as well.
As we talked it through, I reminded him that the Bible teaches that there’s only one thing we could do to keep us from enjoying eternal life with God and that is to “blaspheme the Holy Spirit”, meaning that we ignore the Spirit calling us to salvation through Jesus, instead insisting that we can save ourselves. How do we know for sure that we’ve given Jesus our hearts and aren’t blaspheming the Holy Spirit?
Sanctification shows up.
We can see growth in our lives.
Others can see that we’ve been remade.
Eventually blossoms bloom on our lengthening stems, giving way to miniature fruit that, over time, with the right nutrition system, yields solid, beautiful, rich, adult fruit.
Wait — What fruit?
Look no further than Galatians (psst…which happens to be the book we are studying after Creed! Sign up here!)
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law. If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
The thing about this spiritual fruit is that we can’t manufacture it on our own.
We can’t motivate ourselves to be more loving or patient.
For it to grow, we must listen to the leading of the Spirit, and “keep in step with the Spirit” as He grows that fruit in us.
To insist on attempting to produce our own fruit is to push against the work of the Spirit!
I want bigger fruit, better yield, more maturity and depth…how do I get it?
It’s not glitzy, or charming.
It doesn’t smell like coffee in the morning,
or wrap around us like jasmine scented Jacuzzi water…
IT’S SO GOOD!
Two years ago I ran my first-ever full marathon. At most, before training, I’d run 4 miles, and here I was signing up for 26.2.
Sure, there were dreamy runs where I loved nearly every second of it, but most of my training runs were gritty, at times bloody, definitely sweaty, and the tears.
Oh. The. Tears.
I remember one particularly horrible run in the middle of July. I was supposed to run 10 or something and I was dead, like beyond dead, after 3.
I was crying while I was half-walking, half-limping, and all-complaining.
I called my husband begging him to rescue me.
But the man refused!
He said it was these runs that were doing the hard work of building up my ability to run all 26.2 miles.
I literally loathed his words. But I finished.
And, looking back, he was right. That run was a turning point in my training and I was able to accomplish much greater feats because I endured it.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time.”
“but in the end, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness”
Yes, in the end.
That pain is so precious because it yielded so much.
Sanctification is God being a “vinedresser” to our hearts.
It’s the very loving Father disciplining our hearts, not by punishment, but through training, to cut away the sin and pride inside, making us more like Jesus Christ.
Until the end…
The end is when Glorification takes over.
Sanctification finishes its work and we become “glorified”, made flawlessly perfect with new bodies and hearts that move perfectly in rhythm with the Spirit.
Justification happens when we cross the line of faith.
Sanctification happens in the middle.
Glorification happens when we cross the line into eternity and see our Savior face to face.
Train hard, my sisters, much awaits us!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!