Practical Christianity: Part One
A canoe is a very good boat for a lake. It is quite safe, and there is nothing more pleasant than paddling along over the smooth water on a sunny day. But a canoe would be a very bad boat for the ocean, especially in a storm. If one should be caught in a great storm on the Atlantic, in a little canoe, he would almost certainly be drowned.
Just so, people who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ do a great many "good" things. They are kind, often. They give money to the poor. They work hard. But these things are not really good at all when God looks at them. He says that they that are in the flesh—that is, those who have not been born again—cannot please God. They may do things that are good before men, but they cannot do things that are good before God. He says, too, that "All our righteousness’s are as filthy rags” in His sight (Isaiah 64.6). If this is the way good works of unsaved people look to God, you can easily see why we cannot be saved by them. "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
What about good works, then? Does the Christian have any responsibility to do good works, or can he live just anyway? The answer is to be found in another verse in Ephesians 2:10—"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” The very reason why He has saved us is so that we can do good works, for after the Lord has taken our sins away, works that even God can call good come into our lives.
Have you noticed that the word "works” is found twice in those two verses? Not of works . . . and created in Christ Jesus unto good works. The first kind God must curse, the second God can bless. The first works are looked upon by unsaved people as being the root from which they hope salvation will grow. But the Christians are saved by faith in Christ and have this salvation as the root from which the good works grow as a fruit. You can see that there is a vast difference between works that are a root and works that are a fruit.
This fruit is described in the Bible as a nine-fold cluster, like a bunch of grapes. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22). Every part of this fruit should be growing in the life of each Christian.
All of us should be very practical. Someone asked Mary if her little brother was really converted. She answered, "I think he really is, for he doesn't pull the cats tail like he used to” That is a real witness, when even the cat knows that new life has come into our hearts. That is the fruit of gentleness. If we say that we are Christians, and do not show it in the little things of life, we must ask God to keep on changing us, so that the fruit may be seen in us. A little girl who helped her mother by setting the table, always put a cracked dish at her brother’s place until she was saved. Then she put it at her own place and give him the good. That is the fruit of love and goodness.
The only way to make this fruit grow in our lives is by spending time with God, studying His Word and praying, just as a garden must be watched every day if it is to produce good flowers. Have a definite time and a definite plan for reading the Bible. Read it every day, and never let a day pass. Each time you pick up the Bible ask God to use it to feed your new life and to make His fruit grow within your heart. He will answer that prayer if you really mean it.
- Can unbelievers do any good?
- How does the Christian begin to bear the fruit of the spirit?
- What does it mean to spend time with God?
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