Constantly toiling to do good works is draining. We strive to produce good fruit, missing the point. God is the Source, the One who produces the fruit. We are only to remain in Him.
God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
2 Thessalonians 2:13, NASB
Sanctification means to be purified. Purification isn’t a one-time act; it is a continuous work of the Spirit. But that isn’t meant to be a frightening thing for believers. I have found much of my toil to be self-inflicted. I get an idea of what God requires of me as a Christian so I charge full speed ahead like, “I gotch-u, God!” Inevitably, the outcome of my valiant service doesn’t look at all like what I thought it would. Discouragement and frustration flank me and I start dissecting where I went wrong.
One of the ladies in my bible study shared an enlightening interpretation of John 15 this past week. She said when Jesus described Himself as the vine and us the branches, we often misunderstand the call He is making. As branches, we strive toward producing fruit. Yet we cannot manufacture any of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) apart from being an extension of the vine. Therefore, our chief goal is not to produce fruit for the Lord, but to stay joined to Him. God will do the work of producing fruit through us as we seek to gain life from Him.
The dilemma I keep running into is I forget my role as the branch. I want to be able to see how God is working and why. That way, I can help speed things along, you know? God usually moves at a snail’s pace. The bible reveals that nothing happens without God’s knowledge or permission. But there are days when that isn’t comforting to me, because I want to know why.
A few weeks ago, when I was wrestling with this truth, one of my pastors brought some peace to my grappling. “Be more okay with mystery,” he said. In this information age we want to know and be in control of everything within our grasp. If there’s something we don’t understand or cannot explain — we reject it. Yet there is no way for anyone to know how some suffering or tragedy will be used to sanctify or bless someone else 50 or 100 years down the road. What Satan means for evil, God always uses for good.
There is no way for anyone to know how some suffering or tragedy will be used to sanctify or bless someone else 50 or 100 years down the road. What Satan means for evil, God always uses for good. Click To Tweet
Our enemy whispers to us that we need to understand more in order to gain a better grasp. If we can hold on to something, we can control it. It’s the devil’s way to use such a good thing for his purpose of separating us from God. It’s so difficult to just believe a truth without being able to maintain some sort of personal responsibility for it. It’s actually kind of funny. We often don’t want to be responsible for anything concrete and real. But we will kill and destroy for an idea that requires no responsibility at all.
Jesus is the vine; I am the branch. I do not always fully understand His methods or purposes for pruning in my life. Perhaps so I will know He is my refuge. He has never forsaken me.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You.”
Psalm 16:2, ESV
My little branch is being sanctified, and I am confident my source of life is solely in the Vine. As I have stepped back from taking charge, God has been producing fruit through my faithfulness to Him. Instead of trying to peddle the value of kid’s ministry, I went to the Source and He is providing! I also have a desire to shepherd younger women, but I don’t have much formal training beyond life itself. But through studying God’s word and listening to my loving Master, He is bringing people into my life I didn’t even know. It is humbling, at times agonizing, and completely joyous. I LOVE watching God work.