I was sitting in a relatively comfortable chair across from a kind, older gentleman who was listening to me berate myself for the kind of a person I was. I mean, who drives their husband away? What kind of “Christian” is angry all the time, frustrated that what she reads about in the Bible is basically a fairy tale for her because she has never experienced any “fruit”? Anything positive. Rather, I was stuck, stressed, and basically ready to give up. My husband had already walked out, so why try?
After letting me expound for a relatively polite amount of time, this really nice man starts to tell me a story. Gosh, I wish I could remember his name… Anyway, apparently he used to be a pastor before he retired and went into counseling. He recounted a time when he was leading a small group study on the fruit of the Spirit, and used Psalm 1 as the passage. His focus was on the fruit and how important it was, when he felt God arrest him right where he was at, and shift his focus from the fruit — to the trees.
“Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers. But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about his law. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither; and in all they do, they prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3
Verse 3 makes it clear that the only way that these trees bear fruit is because they are planted along a riverbank. Not only do they bear fruit, but they do it each season without fail. They don’t dry up and wither, but instead they prosper.
Let’s go New Testament now. Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:4-26 that He was the chief supplier of living water: 10 “Jesus replied, If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me and I would give you living water.” and in 14: “But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
Here’s what I learned that day from the really nice man: There was way more to my story than how I had screwed up.
In order to produce anything remotely positive like the spiritual fruit written about in Galatians 5:22 I need to have a very real connection to this God who says He loves me. Even Paul emphasizes that it is the Holy Spirit who produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is not by my striving that I will achieve these things on my own.
I tried. And failed.
When this truth started to trickle into my awareness-receptors, I decided that I wanted more. I was thirsty. Parched actually. What has happened in the time since is that I have been reminded that Jesus wraps up the law spoken of in Psalm 1 with these two: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-40)
Let’s not stay on the same horse but just change the saddle… It is not about what we do and how hard we do it that creates change in our hearts at first. Yes there are many passages that urge us to love God and to love one another, but we must remember where it starts:
1 John 4:19 – We love because He first loved us.
Let it wash over you, this life-giving, cleansing, refreshing water He offers.
Soak in it.
Allow it to carry away the pain, the burdens, the mistakes, the failures, the wrongs.
Spending time every day at His feet, consciously making an effort to understand how much I am loved — not because I deserve it, but because He washes away all that would separate me from His perfect righteousness and smiles upon me because He now sees me as He intends me to be.
Made in His image.
So, as Paul writes in Romans 12, let’s actively renew our minds with the truth of God’s unshakeable love for us.
Let’s let it transform us. Because then great things happen.
Like caring for the poor, the needy, the widows and the orphans.
Fear is abolished.
Anger is deflated.
Wounds are healed.
Pain is soothed.
Let’s learn to rest in the Living Water. May your heart never go thirsty again.
“Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Jesus. (Matthew 11:28)
“Arise my love, my fair one, and come away with me.” Song of Solomon 2:10