Monday, 23 November 2015

Daily Reading: Luke 6v43-45 'What Grace produces'

You can’t be something you are not. Why not, because you will eventually get found out. If someone said they were brilliant at football how would you know if it was true? You would watch them play and their actions will prove or disprove it. Here Jesus is calling on his disciples to do likewise. He uses the image of fruit trees, they produce the fruit of the type of tree they are and can’t produce any other, it is just the same with you says Jesus. The self evaluation of (42) matters because our fruit, what we are producing, reveals whether or not we have understood the gospel, it shows us which way we are living, and you can’t fake it.

(45) Uses the word stored – the idea is of a storeroom, or a treasure house, the place where you keep what matters most. Our mouths and our natures reveal what our treasure is, what is really inside.  It's not what you say you are you are, it's what you are you are.

Do you see what Jesus is saying? Grace shows. If I have understood the love of God seen in Jesus coming for me when I was a guilty rebel, I will show it by loving guilty rebels. If I have understood God’s mercy in not condemning me when I deserved it but seeking relationship at the cost of His Son then it will show in my showing mercy to others, not judging them but inviting them to come and know God.

Just flip that on it's head, that means if I don’t show mercy and love, if I judge and right people off then it shows I have not and do not understand God’s love, in fact it shows God’s love is not in me.  I can’t help but think Jesus has the good, religious Pharisees in his sights as he says this.  What was in their heart, what did they treasure? Law, legalism, pride, position. How was that seen? They wrote off the likes of Levi, legalism about Sabbath and so on.

But what about Levi, what mattered to him? Grace, relationship with God. How do we know? He left everything and followed and he looks like Jesus as he invites his friends to come and see, come and listen.  Am I prepared to evaluate myself? To ask the question: what do my fruits reveal? There are only two choices – either my mouth reveals good or evil.  Either it reveals that I have understood God’s love and grace or that I haven’t.  “for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” Am I being fruitful? I guess one of the dangers is to examine ourselves and think I am being fruitful that's good.  But the challenge is to do so more and more, to increasingly love as God loves. If I find I am not fruitful then we need to probe more deeply and ask why?  Is it that I have forgotten how much I am loved?  Is it that I have begun to drift into thinking I deserve God's grace?  Is it that I have just taken my eye off my total need of Jesus and his grace to me?  If so Jesus is ready to forgive if we repent of that and ask him, he has already paid for our hard heartedness at the cross and just waits for us to bow the knee and admit we can’t do it and to ask him to save us and rule us.

There is another danger and that is that we could go away thinking I do good things therefore I’m ok. The good that Jesus talks of here is not being nice, it is doing what God desires, what pleases God not because we are earning save ourselves points but because God has saved us by grace.  Grace always produces fruit?  What is grace producing in our lives?

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