FRUITFUL IN EVERY GOOD WORK (3)
It is a source of grief to many true believers that they feel themselves to be so unfruitful; that there is so little of the pleasant manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit in themselves. Indeed, they wonder if their heart is the Lord’s garden at all, and they fear that He would need but a small basket in which to gather either His pleasant fruit or sweet spices (Song 5.1). When they read ‘Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit’ (John 15.8) they esteem themselves as having failed. If ‘much fruit’ is the evidence of true discipleship, doubts begin to rise as to whether they are true disciples. We do well to heed the words of Joseph Hart –
Let no false comfort lift us up
To confidence that’s vain;
Nor let their faith and courage droop,
For whom the Lamb was slain.
False comfort is found in those who confound works with fruit. Natural man does many wonderful things, but he will never be able to make an apple. False comfort catalogues our good works and hopes to be accepted by the Lord upon the recital of them in the day of judgement. The Saviour has already answered that recitation:
Many will say to me in that day. Lord, Lord, have we not… in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity’ (Matt. 7.22,23). On the other hand, the cordial for the drooping courage of the true believer is in the case of those disciples who could not call to mind having done even a little for their Lord and Saviour: ‘Lord, when saw we thee an hungred and fed thee, or thirsty and gave thee drink?’ etc. (Matt. 25.31-40). There is
sometimes fruit unobserved by us, but discerned by the Lord. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for their’s is the kingdom of heaven’ -those who feel they have done so little for their Lord, and mourn because of it with a grief that finds expression in lines like these –
Oh that my soul could love and praise Him more,
His beauties trace. His majesty adore;
Live near His heart, upon His bosom lean;
Obey His voice, and all His will esteem.
The poor in spirit are blessed of the Lord because poverty of spirit is fertile ground from which choice spiritual fruit grows, and seldom with observation by us. True mourners, too, are the poor and needy earnestly desiring to be enriched with grace, and to be made fruitful unto their God. Blessing and comfort is pronounced upon such by Him who always hears and answers their cry, who sing – ‘Yet I love thee and adore, O for grace to love thee more’. Meekness, that desirable fruit of the Spirit, always grows in a low place, well watered by the Spirit and the Word. Humility, lowliness of mind and meekness all grow together. Such fruit is not relished by the world, and, because of its nature, is not always discerned by those in whose hearts it grows. None the less it is precious to the Saviour, and in the sight of God, a jewel of great price (1 Pet. 3.4). Lowliness of mind maintains the believer in a low place, esteeming others better than ourselves (Phil. 2.3), not necessarily in everything but in general, the reason for this being that we know something of ‘the little foxes’ that spoil our vine, but not the little foxes of others.
The meek and lowly have learned of Christ who Himself is meek and lowly of heart; from Him has this fruit been found. It grows now on the site where once the stronghold of pride stood, where high-minded self and evil imaginations once exalted themselves against the knowledge of God. But this stronghold, having been demolished by the weapons of God’s warfare Â— grace, mercy and truth – the site has been cleared to become the garden of the Lord.
To whom does the garden belong? The believer prays: ‘Awake, O north wind; come with thine icy blast, and nip in the bud the uprisings of sin and selfish pride; come, thou south wind, and blow upon my garden that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my Beloved come into His garden and eat His pleasant fruits.’ ‘I am come into my garden’ is the response of the Divine Gardener (Song . 16; 5.1). What is the renewed human heart but paradise regained, where the Lord walks in fellowship with His saints – His spouse – in the cool of the day? The fruit of the Spirit is such that it cannot be measured in basketfuls; but it can be multiplied: ‘Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord’ (2 Pet. 1.2).
P. W. Scarland