Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Sprit, are you now trying to attain
your goal by human effort? (Gal.3:3).
"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his
life?" Jesus asked--or as the King James version renders the question--"Which of
you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?" Can any one of us force
ourselves to grow by thinking about it? Can any one of us change the course of our past?
All that is being done, will be done or has been done--will be; and though we have a
choice to seek God's wisdom in the things we can change, we should consider the words of
"Prayer of Serenity" and learn to accept that which we cannot change.
There is much that we try to gain control of and much that we try to avoid altogether. Yet
it is truly through the wisdom of our Lord that we will discover our place in all things
considered. We shall find what He directs us to move within or toward, and we shall find
what He directs us to draw away from. Yet we must also realize the power by which all
things must be accomplished--that power that is found in God's Spirit rather than in human
One area in particular has to do with our righteousness. Our true righteousness was
attained for us by the work of Christ, and it is found in our believing in Him. For
example, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness"
(Rom.4:3; Gal.3:6; Jas.2:23). Our trusting His work marks our "beginning with the
Spirit" mentioned in the verse above. It is the place wherein faith takes its place
in our hearts, superseding personal righteousness and religious works.
We must realize that there is a significant difference between works out of faith and
works done through human efforts. Works done through faith are outward. That is, they are
done for the purpose of helping and loving others--meeting their needs and bringing the
Love of God closer to humanity. While works that are not done because of faith are inward.
That is, they are done so that we feel better about ourselves, our righteousness, our
purpose and our place. They are works that are done so that the person who does them might
feel accepted by God and gain His acceptance, approval and entrance into His presence. The
works, however, that are born from faith seek no selfish gain, but seek to help others
come to God's righteousness, purpose and place for their sake.
Now let us consider a pear tree. The tree grows good and strong as it has what it needs to
grow. If it remains in good soil, and well watered, it will produce much fruit. The tree
does not have to worry about producing fruit, and it does not have to think about it or
force itself to do it--it just does. Why? Because as long as it is where it needs to be,
the growing and thriving and fruit bearing are all part of a very natural process.
Jesus uses the vine and the branches illustration to help us to understand our growth and
fruit bearing process as His disciples. He tells us, "I am the vine, you are the
branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for
without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). It is a very natural process to grow in
Christ and to produce fruits that are good works through faith. But there is a
stipulation: we must be where we need to be so we will have what we need to grow, which
means that we must abide in Him--like a tree near the water's edge.
Apart from Him, we can to nothing. To try to do righteous works while not abiding fully in
Christ is like trying to force yourself to grow fruit--it's not going to happen. Going to
church, witnessing, teaching, leading Bible studies; are all misrepresentations of the
true and lasting fruit if these things are not done through faith and abiding. And it all
comes down to a matter of perspective--we must take our focus off of the works and turn
our focus to the Lord. It's kind of like hitting a ball, you don't focus on swinging the
bat--but you keep your focus on the ball.