As I was traveling through the back roads of Idaho yesterday, I started thinking about Fruit Inspectors. You know, those individuals that inspect the quality of fruit before it gets shipped out to grocery stores. They look for shape, color, disease, bug infestation and of course, taste. They have an eye for quality, or at least that’s what they are trained to do. It’s nice to know that rotten produce is eliminated and doesn’t get passed on to the consumer…well, most of the time.
I too, at different times during my Christian walk, have assumed this role of fruit inspector—checking out the produce of other Christians. I got really good at “discerning” quality spiritual fruit! When the fruit failed to measure up to my standard, I either confronted the individual or distanced myself from having contact with that person. Ouch. Yep, I was very proud of myself for having great fruit inspection abilities! I took great comfort in being able to distinguish between the fruit of a “mature” Christians and that of an “immature” Christian. Hey, someone had to do it…
Really? Ever been around Christians who are inspecting your spiritual fruit? It’s a pretty ugly experience because at once you realize they have forgotten the Lord’s commandment to love, instead they are passing judgment on the quality of your life. It makes for a very sour “church” experience. It’s an environment where monitoring the behavior of other Christians has become the focal point of their belief. Rigidity follows, legalism ranks, and we look down our noses at those who do things we have defined as un-Christian. Skirt length, hair length, beverage limitations, forms of speech, food selections, and other well-defined codes of conduct become the “important evidence” of what a Christian looks like.
Well, I think the Lord is very clear about not calling us into the role of fruit inspector. That’s His job and He’s quite good at it. As He says in John 15:1, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” His conviction is powerful and always full of grace. Sure, I don’t mean to say that He doesn’t use other believers to point out error—He has on many occasions in my life—but He’s not called us individually to carry out that task as a matter of daily course. We do so under His leadership, “with a spiritual of humility”.
When I fell into this “self-assigned” role as fruit inspector, I had lost sight of God’s grace. I lost sight of His unconditional love for each child of His, myself included. I forgot about His ability to shape and fashion my heart into His image. I didn’t know that as the Vine and Vinedresser Jesus is the One Who is most committed to bearing fruit in me. I thought it was up to me and if it was up to me, I better get cracking…and get other Christians cracking too! No, He’s called us to “bear” fruit not “create” it. We bear fruit when we abide in Him… “All of Him in all of me,” as Major Ian Thomas so aptly put it.
It sort of takes pride right out of the picture, doesn’t it?
Today’s Grace Tapestries recording, Fruit Inspectors stretches this idea a little further. I pray He stirs your heart to trust Him all the more with your life and those around you. This link will take you there: Fruit Inspectors or it’s listed on the right.
Abiding in Him…