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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.”—Philippians 4:17 (NKJV)
The Christian life is held in tension between two important truths:
First, we are utterly incapable of deserving, earning, or contributing to God’s grace. Nothing we do or don’t do can make Him love us any more or any less. His compassion toward us is unconditional and unwavering. He graciously reaches out to us “while we are still sinners” (Romans 5:8). There’s no “gold star” we need to perform for; we are fully accepted by God by virtue of what has been accomplished on our behalf by His beloved Son (Ephesians 1:6).
You may be thinking, All of this sounds great, but I sense a “but” coming. What’s the catch?
There’s no catch. It’s simply the counterbalancing truth to all of the above. Which is that once we’ve received God’s grace, it will change our lives. And now for the second truth: A life that is “in Christ” will naturally produce what Paul refers to as “fruit” in his letter to the Philippian Church.
This word, fruit, isn’t speaking of actual fruit we eat, but a reference to godly character. It’s a visual of what happens to someone as God’s Spirit begins to indwell and empower them.
Things start to happen that hadn’t happened before. They begin to say and do things that align with God’s ways instead of their sinful nature. Instead of giving in to temptation, they exercise self-control. Instead of snapping in anger, they respond with peace. Instead of being fearful they become bold. Their lives begin to produce fruit—and Jesus goes on to say that our Heavenly Father is glorified in this process: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8 NKJV).
Now, it’s important to keep both of these truths in view because we can often focus exclusively on the fact that our lives are to be fruitful. When that happens, “being fruitful” becomes a burden we feel we need to achieve. And when we don’t, we feel insecure because we know our lives aren’t producing what they should!
It’s good to evaluate the fruitfulness of our lives, but not at the expense of remembering that all fruit is the result of God already planting us in the soil of grace! We need to live between both of these realities, for when we do, our lives will be found fruitful.
DIG: What two truths are the Christian life held in tension between?
DISCOVER: Why is it important to keep both truths in mind?
DISPLAY: How would you evaluate your own fruitfulness as a Christian? Make a chart of the fruits of the Spirit, and do an honest assessment of how evident they are in your life. Once you evaluate that, write down ways you can see an increase in fruitfulness in these areas. Don’t forget to pray over these areas and ask the Lord to help you produce!
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.