Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Does the tree know how beautiful it is? No.

In the world there are "the works of the flesh," in the Church, "the fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:9). What does fruit mean in this context? There are many works of the flesh, but only one fruit of the Spirit. Works are done by human hands, fruit thrusts upward and grows all unbeknown to the tree which bears it. Works are dead, fruit is alive, and bears the seed which will bring forth more fruit. Works can subsist on their own, fruit cannot exist apart from the tree. Fruit is always the miraculous, the created; it is never the result of willing, but always a growth. The fruit of the Spirit is a gift of God, and only he can produce it. They who bear it know as little about it as the tree knows of its fruit. They know only the power of him on whom their life depends. There is no room for boasting here, but only for an ever more intimate union with him. The saints are unconscious of the fruit they bear. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

This insight from Dietrich was very powerful to me. It tied back to his earlier point of truly having your left hand unaware what your right is doing.

"But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" (Matthew 6:3 ESV)

You can't hide your faith, and in fact, as I already shared, it's impossible. A city on a hill can not be hidden; not shouldn't, it can't. If we have the light of Christ in us it should be beaming. However so often we want to take our own reigns, even in the guise of good works, and thus we quench the Spirit.

If I choose to do a good work, so be it, but it's not fruit. I need to trust that the more I remain in Him I am bearing good fruit. Only others around me can see it, and I will not go in search of a spiritual mirror to check my fruit status as that's not the point. Besides, all of my good works together combine to something as filthy of menstrual rags compared to God. Why compare? Works don't stack up ...

We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
 (Isaiah 64:6 ESV)

Abide. All I must concern myself with is that I am abiding in Him.

Abiding in Him,

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