January 29, 2012

Growth Is Gracious

John 15:9-17

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”
John 15:16


Along with our reflections this month on the fruit of the Spirit, let’s note some general observations about how we grow as Christians. For the next few days we’ll consider how spiritual growth is gracious, gradual, and guaranteed.

One of the important things we’ve noticed this month is that spiritual growth is the result of God’s work in us. Though we have an important role to play, even our determination to flourish with the fruit of the Spirit is evidence of God’s grace. The Holy Spirit is the one who stimulates our desire to grow in Christ. Growth is gracious.

This means we should keep our attention on Jesus and not ourselves. If we focus too much on how well we perform as Christians, we are bound to get distracted. An old anonymous poem, “The Centipede’s Dilemma,” makes the point well:

A centipede was happy quite,
until a frog in fun
said, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”
This raised her mind to such a pitch,
she lay distracted in the ditch,
considering how to run.

Don’t focus too much on how advancing in the spiritual life actually works, or on how well you’re doing it. Trust that growth will happen, and when it does, thank Jesus for the fruit produced by his appointment.

Thank you, Lord, for choosing us to bear fruit. What an incredible gift you have given us! Help us never to forget that everything we do is only by your grace. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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