By Marilyn Schouten
Today's Thoughts are a combination of things the Lord has been showing me through Scripture and through our Tuesday morning Bible Study at the VGF outreach building. Bear with me as I try best I can to convey the "tornadic" activity in my heart and mind.
Philippians 1:11 "having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." James 3:18 "And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." Proverbs 6:23a "For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is a light." Galatians 5:22,23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
From Marilyn: In our Tuesday morning Bible Study, we are doing the letter of Ephesians. It has been a "scent-filled" study, meaning, the challenge each week is to be so unified with Christ that our very being is a sweet aroma that is obvious to everyone around us that we are a servant of the Lord. We've talked about sacrifice and unity, and how the sacrifice of old, that animal whose blood was shed, then burnt, offered for sin, was a pleasing aroma to God the Father. (Side thought: Doesn't it make you ponder how the stench of burning flesh can be a sweet aroma to the Lord? And that He looked on the sacrificed Christ, with that same "aroma" concept and accepted His own Son as the completeness of all things forgiven? All such topics should be taken into consideration on a daily basis as we read Scripture, pray and praise the One who has set all things in motion.)
But for today, I wanted to share a couple thoughts about the verses above. What really triggered this recent reflection were these words from the Philippians verse, "having been filled with the fruit of righteousness." I love that phrase, "the fruit of righteousness..." Many times we hear about the fruit of the Spirit and some of us even know those Galatian verses by heart and though it's great to memorize Scripture (I have memorized and continue to do so), just being able to recite them verbally means nothing if they are not practiced. A practical example the Lord shared with me was.....it's great to put gas in the lawn mower, but if it's never turned on and used, it will not be able to cut the grass! So I pursued the term, "fruit of righteousness" and came upon the James verse,"And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." So when reading our next Tuesday lesson, focused primarily upon Divine Rules for Human Relationships, Ephesians 5:21 - 6:9 it was hard not to read into every question...this lingering message.....the fruit of righteousness. This is not a word study from VGF, but just some thoughts from a Pastor's wife. I believe that the fruit of righteous is Christ and as He infiltrates our lives (the gas for the mower).....then, with the power of the Holy Spirit we should produce the fruit of the Spirit (actually cutting the grass). And I believe the Proverbs verse coincides...the commandment is the lamp and the teaching is a light.....the commandment comes from the Lord (it is the gas) and the teaching is a light (actually cutting the grass). For don't you know that each of us on a daily basis is "a teaching" to the world, family and friends around us! Minute by minute people are reading us, studying us and we are instructors whether we like that concept or not or whether we believe it or not....we are teaching. Understanding that the commandment is a lamp...and teaching is a light will only enhance our relationship with Jesus. Pastor John shared this weekend how I "helped" with the mowing process at our new home and kind of turned our mowing acres into "crop circles!" It might look like a mad design, but really it's just.....crooked!!!! I don't take offense to my inability to cut straight lawn mowing lines, I have other gifts!
So it is true on the flip side....we follow other examples, other than Christ and hypocrisy ensues. If we as wives cannot submit to our husbands (as Christ is the head), then the lack of respect is not far behind. It seems easier to understand that with every action, there is a reaction (some smart person said that!) and all fits hand in hand. Let there be light, and there was light.....be filled with the fruit of righteousness (which only comes through Christ Jesus) then we WILL produce the fruit of the Spirit. Understanding that the commandment is a lamp...and teaching is a light will only deepen our relationship with Jesus. While I was trying to be a helper taking my turn at mowing...I reflected on these thought and it does no good to call yourself a "follower of Christ" if your actions do not match, the leader! In fact I would be so bold to say that you are actually doing damage to your children/family & co-workers by living in such hypocrisy.
A.W. Tozer says in The Pursuit Of God, "A satisfactory spiritual life will begin with a complete change in relation between God and the sinner; not a judicial change merely, but a conscious and experienced change affecting the sinner's whole nature. The atonement of Jesus' blood makes such a change judicially possible and the working of the Holy Spirit makes it emotionally satisfying."
Take this week and ask the Lord for the "fruit of righteousness" to be filled up in you so that the only thing that flows from you is.....the "fruit of the Spirit!"