Thursday, April 17, 2008

Productive People, Good Ground

This is the last in a series of posts from Phillip Keller’s book “A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit” where Keller describes each type of soil from the parable of the sower in Luke 8:4-15. He starts off this chapter by explaining what "good ground" is and how it must be cultivated.

In bold and dramatic contrast to the three types of unfruitful, nonproductive soils, Jesus depicted a piece of good ground. He said that when good seed was sown on good soil there could be a flourishing garden full of fruit.

Although we are not naturally "good ground," none of us is too tough for God, the Good Gardener, to tackle. In spite of our perverseness, pride, and pollution He can transform us from a wasteland to a well-watered garden. We should want it that way. It does not come easily. It does not happen in a single day. The digging, the clearing, the cultivation may seem to us to be devastating; the disciplining of our souls may seem severe. Yet afterwards it produces the peaceable fruits of His own planting (see Heb. 12:10-11).

Too many of us as Christians are content to remain wild wasteland. We much prefer to stay untouched by God's good hand. In fact we are frightened of having our little lives turned over by the deep work of His convicting Spirit. We don't want the shearing, cutting, powerful thrust of His Word to lay us open to the sunlight of His own presence. We prefer to remain weedy ground and stony soil -- or pathetic pathway people.

We delude ourselves into thinking that out of our old unchanged characters and dispositions somehow a good crop is coming forth. It simply cannot be. You simply do not gather grapes from a thistle patch nor figs from wild brambles. And the good gardener does not even come there looking for fruit. It is strictly a no-crop condition. It is a total loss to both ourselves and God.

Then Keller goes on to give this beautiful picture of a good garden:
In a good garden there are no spots still littered with stones. There are no odd corners cluttered and choked out with weeds. There are no beaten paths where nothing at all can grow. All the ground has to be tilled. All the soil must finally be fitted for fruitfulness.

It will take time to do this. But it must be done. The Spirit of God is very persistent. The Good Gardener must have full management. Christ comes to take over every area made arable.

The extent to which a piece of good ground has received and responded to good sowing is eventually demonstrated by how little soil shows. The entire area planted will be taken over, covered and smothered in a luxuriance of green growth. The onlooker will see, not the soil, but the bountiful produce on it.

So with our lives. If in truth we have received the good Word, and the very life of Christ flourishes, it is the fruitage of His character, the fragrance of His conduct that will be evident to those around us.

Lord, do what you must to make us good soil so that we may produce bountiful fruit for Your glory. May our lives reflect Your constant care and work so that when others observe our lives they will see only Your fruit.

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