Bearing Fruit, Looking Like Our Father

“After all, I’m only human.”

You’ve heard that excuse, right? Wait, you’ve made that excuse? Yep, me too. Usually after I’ve royally messed something up; done something that is completely un-Christ-like. It’s my little way of letting myself off the hook. I mean, nobody’s perfect.

Guess what? That’s no excuse.

Don’t panic. I’m not going to lambast you for falling short. I’m not going to tell you that with more faith, more Bible reading, more discipline, you can figure out how to grow more Fruits of the Spirit. The truth is, you and I will only bear the Fruit of the Spirit when, just like a child ages and matures, we grow up and begin to look more and more like our Father.

Let’s take step back and think about where fruit comes from. Apple trees produce apples, orange trees produce oranges, grape vines produce grapes.

Throughout Scripture, Jesus calls himself by many titles. One is the True Vine, another is the Son of Man. We are also told in Genesis that when God created man, He made us in His image.
When Adam and Eve sinned, one of the ways we looked like our Father—sinless and pure, was lost. Later in 2 Corinthians 3, we are told that we are to become like Christ. That is God’s ultimate desire for each one of us—in essence to once again bear resemblance to, take after or look just like the God who made us. We are to take on the likeness of a son of God.

“And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:18

There’s a saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Consider the full lifespan of an apple: eventually it splits open, spills its seeds and produces another tree—an apple tree in the likeness of its parent tree.

Jesus is the True Vine. He is also, in Hebrews 1:3 and John 1:18, the exact image—the impression of the character of God. Jesus shows us what His Father looks like. The word character in the Greek actually means “a stamp or a signet”. When you place an inked stamp onto a piece of paper, the resulting image is the exact reflection of the stamp. That is character.

Christ is the exact replication of the Father, as believers we are the branches sprouting from Christ, The Vine. And guess what—because of who we come from, The Vine, our own life-source, we bear His fruit.

A lone branch will never produce fruit, least of all fruit that looks like the parent tree. A severed branch of an apple tree will never, ever birth more apple trees. We cannot conjure up, and manifest Fruits of the Spirit, no matter how hard we try unless we are connected to The Vine. It is Christ who produces The Fruit of the Spirit through us. And then, it is in allowing Him to produce that fruit, that we take on His appearance.

Think of it: It might be hard to tell an apple tree apart from dozens of other trees except when it has apples hanging from its branches. The fruit identifies it. What comes out of our lives blossoms into an accurate reproduction of the character of our Father.

Bearing fruit is what makes us look like Christ and marks us as His own. One of the Fruits of the Spirit is love. John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Bearing fruit in the likeness of the Son of Man is the most natural thing we can do as children of God. The fruit that we produce is a harvest that can lead others to our source of life. “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 9:10

Finally, others who consume our fruit have the opportunity to come to Jesus also. Then they will one day grow up into the likeness of the very One who created them “in His image”.

Tell the Truth Tuesday

What do you think is your biggest God-problem?

What is the most truth-resistant lie that you believe?

Recently, a friend of mine, Deanna Davis, posted a very vulnerable letter on her blog. She unveiled a tricky little lie that Satan employs to undermine active Christians. Self-effacing pride. Does that sound backward? Try this: I just need to get out of God’s way so that He can use someone really effective.

Actually, that is Satan’s ploy to convince a willing, evangelical Christian to shut up and host a pity party. John Piper says that faith doesn’t have a mirror. There comes a time when we have to quit analyzing ourselves – digging for secret sins, begging for conviction, bemoaning lost opportunities and searching our motives. In Psalm 139, David asks God to search and know his heart. He trusts God to reveal any hurtful way in him and to lead him.

I hope you enjoy Deanna’s post HERE. And then, without trying to hard to see yourself in her words, forget about yourself for a minute. Turn your eyes to the perfection of Jesus Christ and the urgency of sharing Him with the world.

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

There’s a pervasive, subversive lie,

That all of us will quickly deny.

“It’s not about me,” tongue in cheek, we reply.

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by: John Bloom

taken from: Desiring God

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Remember the story of Narcissus? He’s the proud, beautiful man in the Greek myth who saw his reflection in a pool, fell in love with it, couldn’t tear himself away, and it killed him.

Mirrors are very dangerous for proud people. Believe me. I speak from experience.

But mirrors present most of us with a different danger than Narcissus. When we look into a mirror we do not see enchanting beauty, nor do we see the glory of God imaging forth in the indescribably complex, ingenious, phenomenal, spectacular miracle that is a human being. What we see mainly are defects.

The captivating power mirrors wield over us is not what we see, but what we want to see. What we see is deficiency. What we desperately want to see is sufficiency.

And worse yet, we see mirrors are all around us. Fallen, proud hearts turn just about everything into a mirror. Whether we’re gazing at magazines or malls or mutual funds or someone else’s immaculate lawn, impressive children, beautiful home, successful business, or growing church, we see ourselves. We see ourselves wanting.

And as we look into these mirrors, seductive messages are whispered into our heart: “Fix that and you will be happy,” or “Better yourself and others’ admiration, acceptance, respect, success, or attraction will save you,” or “Improve yourself and you will please, or at least appease, your god.”

These are the promises of every false gospel. Which is why mirrors are such effective messengers of false gospels.

But happiness, salvation, and peace will never be found in beholding an image, even a relatively improved image, of ourselves. That’s because we are designed to be satisfied when we look at and believe in Jesus, not us.

The Apostle Paul tells us that the true gospel is the “gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). John the Baptist instructs us to “behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). King David sings, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalm 17:15).

It is not a better you that you need to see. You need to see Jesus.

Narcissus is a pagan parable of a real danger. Beware of mirrors. Look at them as little as possible. Instead, open the window of the Word and “Look to Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1). He is the Savior (1 John 4:14), the peace (Ephesians 2:14), and the gain (Philippians 3:8) you are looking for