Does it feel like each week is an opportunity for God to uncover the “good stored up in your heart” or to reveal the disappointment you have been and will be?
I’m sure we have all frequently felt the latter and occasionally felt the former.
Jesus’ words in Luke 6:43-45 should be very hopeful and encouraging as followers of Jesus Christ, but for many of us they can bring a sense of apprehension when taken out of context.
Jesus said, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.”
We tend to be afraid that we are proving to God and the world, week by week, that we are really thorn-bushes pretending to be vines.
We have this unhelpful tendency to evaluate our entire life and effect by our recent activities and interactions as if growth, maturity, goodness, Christ-likeness, sanctification was spontaneous.
And, if you’ve ever experienced the presence of an authority figure, be it a parent, boss, pastor or coach, who continually had the look of disappointment and the tone of frustration, you probably have this tendency of self-judgement.
Many years ago I had a boss who had this look of disappointment and tone of frustration with me, starting with my first day in the office. Every day felt like another opportunity to prove to him that I never should have been hired – that I was inadequate for the job and an embarrassment for the organization.
This situation drained me of creativity, joy, vision, whole-hearted engagement, hope, strength and initiative. I was trying not to prove him right rather than bringing the weightiness of my life to my world.
It wasn’t until I decided to face my fears, lean on God, offer what ever good God has stored in my heart, that I felt my life and calling (true effect) coming back to me. That my life was a vine, not a thorn-bush.
God is not waiting for yet another reason why He shouldn’t have invited us into His family and family business. He does not have a look of disappointment in His eyes nor a tone of frustration in his voice with us.
Here is essential context of our redeemed life as people who offer to the world the good stored up in their heart:
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you (make you good) through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23
“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23
So, from one vine to another, let walk together in the assurance of The Gardener’s love, grace and work in our lives.
I liked your blog Gary. It is very encouraging & helps me remember it is Christ working through me. I’m reminded of the lilies of the field story from the gospels, showing how much the Father loves us. Also reminded of Colossians, where it says we have been transferred to God’s kingdom. If God has transferred us to his kingdom he certainly must not think we’re thorn bushes, does he?
Good thoughts, Scott. Thank you.
I admit my faith is small and I’m easily distracted
My imitation of myself is poorly overacted
And the mirror shows the lines upon my face
I get to wondering if I’m one more hopeless case
It’s just so hard to wrap my heart and mind
Around this thing called grace
At times I think my prayers are some kind of delusion
And even if God’s listening my words are an intrusion
My failures make up such a lengthy list
And I think of all the chances I have missed
This penchant for self-loathing is a hard one to resist
These are verses from a Randy Stonehill song leading to a chorus that concludes: Dare to believe that Jesus loves you. Dare to believe He really loves you.
What I enjoyed as much as, no more than the depth of insight, or the quality of presentation (both of which speak for themselves) was the way I felt connection with you good, good heart in sharing yourself with us.
Great words. Thanks for finding and sharing them. And thank you for your words to me, Bob.
Exactly where I was today and exactly what I needed to hear.
Candy, I’m so glad.
I wish I could believe this, but the unremitting failure of my life proves it false. God loves whom he will love and hates whom he will hate (“Jacob I have loved; Esau I have hated.”) Only the evidence of life tells us which we are in God’s sight. I’m the fourth servant in the parable of the talents, the one who used his talent and lost it and now has nothing to present at the judgement.
James, I don’t know why you feel this way or what has happened in your life. Your words sound hopeless and that makes me sad. I hope you don’t mind me being so bold – but I want to encourage you to not let the “evidence” of your life be the final verdict on you. You are still alive. I pray that you focus on that today and wrestle with God to bow your knee where he asks and receive the grace he is always extending. His grace is available….to everyone….always.
“God is not waiting for yet another reason why He shouldn’t have invited us into His family and family business. He does not have a look of disappointment in His eyes nor a tone of frustration in his voice with us.”
Boy did I need to hear that, more than I even realized…hit me hard, in a good way. Really a grace-filled, heart of God read…thanks for offering it to us!
Ryan, I needed this as well. Thanks man.