Day 10: 30-Day True Woman Makeover Challenge

The Fruit of Her Hands

Do you want to become a woman of virtue? Your future will be affected in many ways by the choices you make today.

• One trap we can fall into is thinking, I’m going to be like that woman if it kills me. We begin to perform, strive, and struggle, saying, “I want to be a good Christian. I want to be a godly woman.” You’ll get exhausted in the effort, and you’ll wear other people out too.
• The realization that you cannot do what God has called you to do by yourself is one of the greatest discoveries you’ll ever make. It’s the starting place to victory.
This is just a taste of what you'll learn from Nancy Leigh DeMoss in the series, “The Counter-cultural Woman: A Fresh Look at Proverbs 31.

Moving on.....

I like to think of myself as “highly effective.” But when I dare to look at some things I do I change my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m effective at some things…eating, sleeping, sitting, and how about playing …oh, sorry everyone, I’m supposed to be writing a serious article here. We are gonna have to save the rest of my highly effective activities for another time.

The practice of the spiritual disciplines is a little like planting a seed. You plant a tiny seed in the dirt and you wait…water…wait… water. (I know that there is a little more to it than that, but you get the picture). It takes time. The plant only grows after consistent, faithful tending to the seed. 

I met with the Lord this morning. I’m looking pretty much the same as I did yesterday, no wonder no one has told me that I look more holy than the day before. But the truth is as I read the Word and prayed this morning, I was watering. Lord willing, I will wake up tomorrow morning and do the same thing. Morning after morning of watering and waiting, and I will eventually see a little green thing sticking up out of the dirt. Growth! More watering, more waiting — more growth! 

The fruitful woman doesn't rely on her own strength, abilities, or nature for the growth of fruit. She isn't stuck within the confines of her personality, unable to break free to the fruitfulness of more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faith, goodness, and self-control. If you lack any of those, as I do, then thank God that He doesn't leave it all up to us. The fruit of the Spirit is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The prescription for a more fruitful life is abiding in Christ.  As Jesus explains in John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me."

The big question is, Can you truly bear fruit if you aren't abiding? I know many nonbelievers who love, who are kind, gentle, patient, and joyful. They love their families, they help their friends, and they serve the world, sometimes better than believers — but only because it feels good. Their fruit grows because of the payoff they receive. A woman might love a man because of how he makes her feel. People might give because of how it relieves their guilt. People do things, when it doesn't come from the Spirit, primarily because of the pleasure they receive. Deep down, even those who seem selfless and good can simply be serving themselves. And though these good things can be beneficial and kind, it isn't evidence of the life of the Spirit or His fruit because the ultimate goal is glorifying self and not God.

We must understand that when we aren't abiding in Christ, any fruit worth producing isn't sustainable. When hard times hit, the fruit produced by sheer brute strength falters because it isn't the produce of the Spirit but the flesh attempting to please itself.

We want more fruit of the Spirit, but we can't seem to find it. So let's examine the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit. Have you considered the idea of the tree? It doesn't grow fruit for itself but to give it to those who would take it from its branches. Fruit doesn't satisfy the tree from which it grows; it's meant to give glory to the Gardener and to benefit those who have need of its fruit. So it is with our fruit, which is meant for being beneficial. We can't consider the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit to be our happiness but the glory of God and the hope, faith, and life of others. Our fruit is meant to serve the hungry and to prove the goodness of the Spirit from which it comes to those who would partake of it. The ultimate goal is to serve the Gardener by feeding those who have access to its fruit.

So the fruit of the Spirit isn't about pleasure or pleasing self at all but about denying self and giving all to the glory to God. It's about needing nothing for ourselves from the fruit we produce. It's truly unconditional, meant to serve the will of God. This fruit comes not from the goodness of our hearts but from the goodness of the Spirit of God, who lives in our hearts. By abiding in Christ and desiring to respond to the Spirit's promptings rather than to our flesh, we set our minds on the things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh. When that happens, our fruit begins to flourish.

I can tell you from experience that what I lacked as a woman in the area of fruitfulness wasn't due to God's lacking but to my misunderstanding of His power and nature and my inability to be mindful of remaining in Christ in my everyday thoughts and actions. I react from my emotional center, a place that not only makes the most sense to me but also speaks highly of me and seems to have my best interests at heart.

I've given lip service to Christ almost daily yet based my decisions on myself. But I've found great relief from much of my self by learning to abide through understanding the fruit that comes from abiding. It's my prayer that you also, through learning to abide and experiencing a deeper spiritual awakening  will find your life to be more fruitful than you've ever imagined it could be.

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