Exalting God, Edifying Believers, Evangelizing the Lost

Are You Loving or Doing Business?

Last week, I saw this message written on a chalkboard in my chiropractor’s office: “If you show kindness to someone and expect something in return, that’s called ‘conducting business.’  True love has no expectations of repayment.”

That is a great summarization of Jesus’ teaching on love in Matthew 5, as he tells his listeners that we should love our enemies as well as our neighbors.  He further explains this statement in verse 46: “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

What Jesus meant is that even many unsaved people follow the Golden Rule, expecting that their kindness will, in turn, earn them kindness from others, and from God. True love from God, though,  is demonstrated in how we treat those who are not loving in return. This is exactly how Jesus Christ showed His love to us, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Is the love that you show to others dependent upon their treatment of you, or are you letting the unfettered love of God reach through you to love the “unlovable” people in your life?

What Kind of Tree Are You?

Spring is here! In just a short while, the flowers will start to bloom, the grass will start to turn green, and trees will sprout new leaves.

Fruit trees will also begin to blossom with leaves and flowers, making the landscape beautiful again.  But to the untrained eye, most fruit trees look very similar until they start to bear fruit. Then it is easy to tell an apple tree from a pear tree since the apple tree will have apples on it and the pear tree will have pears.

Jesus said that we can use the same method for telling true believers from unbelievers—look at our fruit.  Galatians 5 tells us that unbelievers will bring forth the “works of the flesh,” which includes anything that is done in our own power and for the purpose of pleasing ourselves. Believers, on the other hand, will exhibit the “fruit of the Spirit,” consisting of a life that exemplifies the character of Christ in both action and attitude which can only be produced by God’s Spirit within us.

What kind of tree are you? The answer to that question is found in the kind of fruit that your life is producing.

Spiritual Pruning

In West Michigan, there are numerous fruit orchards that cover the landscape: cherries, apples, plums, and pears. Early every spring, all of the trees get a “haircut” as the farmers prune their trees to prepare them for the coming season.  Although the pruning makes the trees look scraggly and thin, it helps the trees to produce the greatest amount of fruit and not just a tree full of leaves.

This is a great picture of the spiritual truth found in John 15:2: “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

Part of God’s pruning in the lives of His children may include things that are hard for us to go through.  Sometimes God may even remove things from our lives that we think are good. But by removing the right things, God is actually making us stronger and ready to bear greater spiritual fruit.

It is then that our lives become truly “fruitful” for God’s Kingdom, rather than just being a tree full of showy leaves and lacking the fruit of the Holy Spirit.