Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pleasing Jesus: Bearing Fruit In Every Good Work

We are exploring how to please Jesus. A life of giving to others is in direct contrast to the message the world produces so it can be hard. It has to be a concerted effort to daily live for Jesus Christ. The first thing Paul lists in Colossians 1 concerning how to live a life that pleases Jesus is:

... bearing fruit in every good work ... (Colossians 1:11) 

This is a common message spoken of often in the New Testament, first the idea of being fruit bearers and the second of good works.

The Christian life is not a barren life. It is a life that produces things. Whatever we put our hand to is blessed of God. Our job, our relationships, our acts of kindness, our worship; everything. The reason these things are blessed is because God pours his blessing through us. These blessings have a purpose: To bring God glory and honour.

If we are not seeing these things blessed of God we need to examine our lives and our relationship with God. Are we in a relationship of complete surrender where we trust God and believe that all of his promises apply to us? Our greatest desire must be to please Jesus. If we do not see the blessings we need to ask if we have promised everything but in truth are holding back parts for ourselves. You know the story of Ananias and Sapphira, right?

Ananias and Sapphira wanted to have the same reputation as other people in the early Church; they wanted to be well thought of without actually doing anything for the reputation. People were selling property and giving the proceeds to the Church so everyone would be looked after. Ananias and Sapphira also sold some land and said they were giving all of it to the Church but actually held a portion back for themselves. They could have done that and been honest about it but the fact they tried to lie to God by saying it was their all while holding some back resulted in their deaths. You can read about it in Acts 4. The Christian life is a surrendered life, not reluctantly but because we want to, not a portion but the whole thing. Our motivation is the love of Jesus.

So we are a people of blessing and everything we do produces fruit, especially in every good work. Good works are a vital part of the Christian life. Loving your neighbour is not just words but involves actions. It is taking theory and putting it into practice. James does a great job in making this point. He says that faith without works is a dead faith, useless, with no value. Faith without works is a a fruitless faith and dishonours Jesus. He cannot be pleased with such a person.

If we desire to be close to Jesus, to honour and please him, we need to act upon his love. We need to be kind to our neighbour, generous to the point of sacrifice. Love must flow through us and into others by our actions. It doesn't matter if the person deserves it or not, Jesus told us to love especially our enemy. Love is not just kind thoughts and holding back our curses; love is action.

The fruit that is produced is spiritual. We are more than humanitarians. We do not think we can change the world through acts of kindness or even great sacrifice. Our acts of kindness open doors but it is only Jesus who saves. It is only Jesus who can change hearts and minds, redeeming a life that was wasted and lost. But don't downplay our role with our acts of kindness. More fruit has been produced through a cup of cold water in a time of need than one thousand well preached sermons.

Bearing fruit in every good work is important because it is what Jesus wants us to do and our life is all about pleasing him. We should be actively looking to find ways to please people. Giving up your seat on the bus is more than a polite, it is a spiritual act of love. So is holding the door open for someone, or shovelling a neighbours driveway, mowing their lawn, baking some bread for them, tutoring a neighbour's child, helping them find their lost cat, listening to their problems, buying them some groceries and a thousand other things you can do in a day. But the center of it all is the love of Jesus that compels us to do all these things and more. That is a life that pleases Jesus.

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