Last week we began our walk through Becoming More Fruitful in Cross-Cultural Work. I chose the word “walk” to show that we are going somewhere, but we are moving at a slow enough pace for change to occur in our understanding and beliefs about fruitfulness.
We started by exploring the relationship between metrics and the fruitfulness discussed in Galatians 5.
Paul used the image of grapes when he spoke of fruitfulness to show that we can experience all nine of the fruit at the same time. Just as a bunch of grapes contains multiple grapes at the same time, we do not have to chose between love, patience, and gentleness . . . they all can be ours!
Here’s another quote from the introduction to help set up what is meant by “upwardly oriented fruit”:
“Remember how I wondered if the fruit of the Spirit are similar to Maslow’s hierarchy with love being foundational and self-control being at the top? I’m not the only one to wonder about the order that Paul gives the fruit. The first three—love, joy, and peace—’appear to comprise Christian habits of the mind,’ and their primary direction is God-ward. The second three—patience, kindness, and goodness—are social virtues that primarily focus on the Christian in his or her relationship to others. The last three—faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—concern the Christian as ‘he [or she] is to be in himself [or herself].'” (page 9 & The Expositor’s Bible Commentary who answered my wondering)
So, this week we will discuss these “habits of the mind that are directed towards God”. If you’re not able to join us, here’s a thought for you to mull on from the chapter on peace:
“A life of freedom isn’t solely about doing something better, harder, or longer; yes, we are asked at times to sacrifice or to do something out of duty. But not always. Walking with the Spirit involves discerning more than knowing. Sometimes you’ll be asked to endure longer with a friend, a team, or a situation than you want to. But sometimes a lack of fruit is a warning light on the dashboard of your life. A warning light that God uses to let you know that something needs to change.” (page 59)
Where are you experiencing a lack of (or change in) in these upwardly oriented fruit of love, joy, or peace? Are you discerning God’s asking you to endure in this area or is a warning light?
You can still join in the Becoming More Fruitful in Cross-Cultural Work book club here!
Book Club this week meets October 12th: 7:00 a.m. MDT/9:00 a.m. EDT
What is success and failure in ministry? It’s not always obvious or easy to say. So, we created a prayer resource for you to work though this question with God! This Examen is designed to help you spend intentional time noticing what motivations for success influence how you minister. This Examen is meant to create open space in your heart so that together with God you can explore your internal motivations in ministry and ultimately your definition of success. Even if you are in a healthy place in ministry, this Examen can only deepen your grafted-ness in Christ.
We have a longer, more thorough version for you to do once a week this month and a shorter version for you to do several times a week in the month of October. Get both here.