Friday, May 2, 2008

The Fruitful Life

I've been reading and praying through a chapter from Jerry Bridges' The Fruitful Life each morning.

I was excited to discover this little book on the fruit of the Spirit, which I thought would help with the Sunday School series I'm writing. I've been a fan of Jerry Bridges since uni days, when I read The Pursuit of Holiness.

Like all Jerry Bridges' books, this one is Biblical, thoughtful, wise, compassionate, and practical. He explores the shades of meaning in some huge Bible words: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

Yesterday I was reading the chapter on joy when these words jumped out at me:

In Luke's account of Jesus' sending out the seventy-two to preach, he says that they returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." Jesus responded, "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (10:17-20). ... Success in ministry comes and goes, but our names are written in heaven forever. ...

Perhaps you don't feel you have much to show for your life. Maybe you haven't written a book, or seen scores come to Christ through your witness, or done anything else that seems significant. But is your name written in heaven? If it is, you have as much reason to rejoice as the most well-known and "successful" Christian. Nothing you or I will ever do can possibly compare with having our names written in heaven. The most humble Christian as well as the most famous Christian stand together on that common ground. (p. 78)

I find it so easy to be tempted to rejoice in the wrong things. When people enjoy my seminar, or a Bible study goes well, or there's lots of readers on my blog, how quick I am to congratulate myself on the success of my ministry!

I don't even realise I'm doing it until a seminar falls flat, or only one person comes to a Bible study, or there are less readers on my blog. Then my disappointment shows I've been rejoicing in my own success, not just the opportunity to encourage others.

Jerry Bridges reminded me that even if I spend my life completely unnoticed - looking after an autistic child or sick parent, caring for my family while my husband is on conferences, living a quiet life of faithful service - but my name is written in heaven, I have as much grounds for rejoicing as the most successful Bible teacher or widely-read Christian author.

Can I encourage you to get hold of Jerry Bridges' The Fruitful Life, and to prayerfully reflect on a chapter or section each day? It will inspire you to love and serve God, and lead you to self-examination, repentance, and prayer.

I'll tell you some more things I've learned from Jerry Bridges' The Fruitful Life as I blog about the fruit of the Spirit in weeks to come.


Bill Weber said...

I read Gordon Cheng's blog on occasion and he referenced your article on Bible reading. You mentioned "The Sons of Korah" and I had never heard of them, but have been looking for the psalms put to music for a long time. I am not a musician, but I shared their music with some musician friends I know. I live in the United States. Thanks so much. I look forward to reading some of your blogs in the future. I am a big Jerry Bridges fan too.

Simone R. said...

Thanks for that. I'll look out for the book.