Much Fruit # 2
A young person seeks all her happiness in the world. The theater, the society of the light and frivolous, the world in its various forms, is her idol - and there is no room for God, no room for Christ, no room for true, earnest piety.
But conscience demands a "salve". So certain religious services are attended, and often Holy Communion is received; but all the time the door is locked against the Saviour, and spiritual worship is utterly disregarded.
If I would bear fruit, it must be thus with me - my religion must go heart-deep. Christ must be all my salvation and all my desire.
"Lord, let me live in Christ by saving faith,
Let me be His for yes, in life or death;
Oh, be it mine, as time's swift chariot flies,
Clearer to read my title to the skies!
Fully to follow You, from grace to grace,
Until You have made me meet to see Your face."
In bearing fruit, the first essential is to be in living union with Christ. And from this, follows the second, which is the constant, daily, hourly abiding in this union.
I would urge this upon myself and upon every believer. I must abide in Christ. I must not begin with Christ - and then trust in good resolutions. I must not take Christ as my Righteousness and my Atoning sacrifice - and then hope to become holy or fruitful in my own strength. I must not aim at doing anything whatever by my own natural abilities.
In Christ I must begin,
in Christ I must continue,
in Christ I must complete all that I undertake.
On Him I must exercise entire, unlimited, perpetual dependence!
I must rely upon Him for daily mercy, daily grace, daily keeping, daily upholding, daily power to think and will and work as I ought in His service.
I suppose Paul was one of the greatest fruit-bearers, perhaps the greatest, that the Church of Christ has ever seen. And what was the secret of his abundant work and labor of love? He rested upon the word of promise, "My grace is sufficient for you; for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). He drank in motive and zeal and perseverance in toil - from Christ Himself. "I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me!" (Galatians 2:20).
Here was the keynote of his whole life. From first to last, he lived on Christ by faith. He ....
fed continually on the Living Bread,
drank evermore from the Living Fountain,
abode in the love of Christ, and
dwelt beneath the shadow of the Rock of Ages.
Nor can we otherwise be fruitful branches. We must ever by faith abide in Christ, and receive out of His fullness.
To maintain and strengthen this dependence, I must abide in Christ's Word. Each promise, each precept, each revelation of Himself or the Father, of sin or the world - I must reverently ponder.
I must abide in His LOVE. I must not hide away from its bright beams in some dark chamber or cavern of world-hunting, or money-hunting, or pleasure-hunting. I must not let other things come in and make me forget that love which is the spring of all the peace that I enjoy. I must dwell upon it more and more until I can comprehend something of its height and depth and breadth and length!
I must keep Christ's SAYINGS, and surrender my will entirely to His. He must be my Head of direction, as my Head of supply. I must obey Him implicitly, as well as trust Him to the uttermost. Anything of reserve or disobedience, or of rebellion against His will, or of grudging service - must interrupt the sweet harmony of faith and love, and hinder the closeness of fellowship with Him.
But while the main essential as to abundant fruitfulness is abiding in Christ, there are other practical hints which ought to be remembered. Here is one.
The richest fruit is often found on low ground. The vines do not grow on the Alpine heights - but in the fruitful valleys that lie beneath.
In the fruitage of Christ's kingdom, the parallel is always true. You find the full supply, not on the hill-tops of pride and self-sufficiency, on the lofty summits of souls that glory in their own gifts or powers - but on such as have learned to be nothing and to glory only in the love and grace of the Redeemer. Where there is much humility - there will be much grace, and where there is much grace - there will be much fruit.
This fruit may be hidden from the eye of man. It may be a life of patient submission to the will of God in a very quiet sphere. It may be the meek endurance of pain during a long and wearisome illness. It may be a constant effort to do good in some difficult position, where few are the least aware of it. But wherever the Christian course is run in lowliness and humble dependence upon God - the Father's eye discerns the fruit, and He will not be slow to accept and own it.
This leads us to another point. The Christian must be well content to let the fruit he bears, be according to the will of God. I must not choose my own position, or murmur because my lot may be ordered of God very contrary to my own will. I might wish the fruit to be of a more showy kind. I might wish to occupy a prominent position, like a branch in a royal vinery or a wide-spreading mulberry tree, or to build a Church, or to do something which would attract the world's attention. But God's will puts me aside - out of sight, as it were, in the back garden, in some quiet nook, unnoticed by the busy throng - and yet able there to be useful and to do something or be something which will not be without effect in the great battle between God and the devil.
(continued with # 3)