Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bearing Good Fruit

Over the past year or so my mind has been periodically harassed by a nagging guilt of not producing enough 'good works'.

The New Testament undoubtedly puts a lot of emphasis on not neglecting our duty of good works:
"And already the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Matt 3:10
"'I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!'.....'So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags....And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’" Matt 25:24-30

I know quite well that salvation is not a remuneration for good works, but still, such verses do give the grim impression that the slothful servant is in danger of being tossed into the fiery pit of perdition.

But much to my joy, God, according to His relentless benevolence, pacified my conscience with this realisation:
It's that producing 'good fruit' isn't strictly just performing outward work like philanthropy; but rather it also includes the inner 'work' of behaving in a virtuous manner.
For example, behaving in accordance with the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) is certainly also what God considers to be in the sphere of what is defined as producing 'good fruit'. It also seems that this inner work is probably an even more important part of producing good fruit than purely just outward philanthropic work.

I think it would be safe to deduce, without diminishing the importance of our philanthropic duty, that living our lives in accordance with these spiritual fruits for the non-believing world to observe, is also a significant part of the Christian's evangelistic duty. In fact I'm sure that if we were to adhere to only one of these two duties, that God would much prefer us to have the spiritual fruits than the philanthropic fruits. I could scarcely imagine that the later would be at all effective without the former anyway.

So whenever that nagging guilt rears its ugly head again, I've got to be sure to remind myself of all this!

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