When I was a young girl I was privileged to be member of the Girl Scout program. My favorite part was earning the badges for all sorts of activities. But it wasn’t the experience I valued, it was the proof of completion that I really held dear. That little emblem showing I had accomplished the assigned task was so important to my young heart. There it was on my sash for all to see. Its award was the signal move on to earning the next patch to add to my collection.
In book of Matthew in the Bible, we drop in on John the Baptizer doing just what he was born to do—preparing the way of the Lord. In the crowd he spots those troublesome religious leaders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These men were stellar in going through the motions of religious ritual and rule keeping. I’m sure their sashes had many merit badges to show for their efforts, but John would not mince words with them about the important people they thought themselves to be. He called them what they were–a pack of poisonous vipers.
That seems so harsh in my estimation, but John knew them right down to their hearts. God and His ways had become something that they added to the outside of themselves to look as though they had it going on the inside as well, but it just wasn’t true. He told them, produce fruit in keeping with repentance. It wasn’t the religious ceremony that was going to save them. It would be the change of heart, one that was fully surrendered to God and that would only be evident through the fruit of their lives. We as a culture of Christians need to be careful not to operate in the same way as these religious men. We cannot just add Jesus as another of our life’s achievements. We have to be fully in Him and He must reside in the proper place as Lord over our lives. What we can add is fruit. And everyone will recognize the merit of this fruit of God by its characteristics—
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.
Verse 23 of Galatians ends with Against such things there is no law. There is no limit to how much you can do when it comes to producing fruit of the Spirit. If I must do something for others to see, why not let it be actions that are pleasing to the Lord.
And one last thing, unlike that little girl of the past who just wanted to get through the task to earn the praise of accomplishment, I now savor each moment in each experience with the Lord. That’s the true pay off.
All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.